DAIRY MYTHS VS. DAIRY TRUTHS

MYTH

Chocolate milk is bad for kids.

TRUTH

Studies show that chocolate milk is an important source of 9 essential nutrients for children, especially in school.

Studies show that students are much more likely to get their three daily servings of dairy – as recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans – if they are offered flavored milk. Overall milk consumption drops dramatically when chocolate milk is removed from schools, which means children miss out on important nutrients. Fortunately, chocolate milk offered in schools is specially formulated with less added sugar than the chocolate milk usually found in stores.

MYTH

People with lactose intolerance should avoid dairy.

TRUTH

There are many ways to enjoy dairy foods, even if you are lactose intolerant.

People who are lactose intolerant simply lack enough of the enzyme required to digest lactose, the sugar found naturally in milk. There are many ways these people can still enjoy the nutritious benefits of dairy, including lactose-free milk, low-lactose cheese, yogurt with probiotics and more.

MYTH

Chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

TRUTH

All milk, including chocolate and other flavors of milk, starts as white milk.

Whether a cow is brown, tan, or black and white, she produces plain white milk. Chocolate milk is made by adding chocolate and sweetener to white milk. While some people have concerns about sweeteners in milk, leading health and nutrition organizations have recognized that a little bit of added sugar is OK if it encourages us to consume more nutrient-dense foods. Both flavored milk and white milk have the same nine essential nutrients. Many people consider the small amount of added sugar in chocolate milk to be a worthwhile trade-off for a delicious, nutritious drink.

MYTH

Homogenization is a chemical process that destroys the nutrients in milk.

TRUTH

Homogenization is a mechanical process, and it has no effect on the nutrient package of milk.
In milk that’s straight out of the cow, the fat all rises to the top. Homogenization is simply the process of mixing the natural milk fat evenly with the rest of the liquid, so you don’t have to shake it every time you drink it.
 
Producers use machines to force the milk through tiny holes at high pressure; this breaks up the fat particles into smaller particles that stay suspended throughout the liquid instead of bunching together at the top.
 

MYTH

Milk is full of dangerous hormones.

TRUTH

Milk only contains small amounts of harmless hormones, most of which occur naturally.

All cow’s milk – whether conventional or organic – naturally contains miniscule amounts of hormones (actually, plants contain hormones, too!). The majority of these hormones are eliminated in the pasteurization process; the rest are broken down safely and completely by your body when you digest the milk.

Some milk also contains tiny amounts of a synthetic hormone call rbST, which has been closely studied and declared harmless by multiple organizations, including the FDA. Multiple studies over more then two decades agree that milk from cows treated with rbST is just as safe as milk from untreated cows.

MYTH

Calves are fed artificial milk replacer.

TRUTH

Calves are first fed their mother’s milk. Later they may be fed whole milk or nutritious milk replacer.

Calves are fed colostrum – the first milk their mothers give after they are born. This is especially nutrient-packed to help each calf grow up healthy. While farmers prefer to feed their calves whole milk afterward, sometimes cost factors they can’t control, such as weather and milk prices, force farmers to use milk replacer to make ends meet. Fortunately, milk replacer is a powdered, high-protein product derived from milk sources.

 

MYTH

Milk contains a lot of excess calories and fat.

TRUTH

Milk has more nutrient bang for your caloric buck.

Milk has a relatively low number of calories for a high number of important nutrients. Just compare milk’s nutrition facts to any other drink and you’ll see what we mean. Plus, low-fat and fat-free milk are great low-calorie options with the same 9 nutrients as full fat. 

 

MYTH

Milk is just for kids.

TRUTH

Dairy contains nine nutrients that are essential for both kids and adults.

Your bones are still growing until about age 30, and even after that, your bones are constantly being rebuilt, so dairy's bone building nutrients are important even for adults. Beyond bones, milk contains a powerful nutrient package, including protein and eight other essential nutrients, that can help Americans achieve their health and wellness goals and may even play a role in reducing your risk of certain diseases.

MYTH

All dairy cows have mastitis.

TRUTH

Cows only occasionally get mastitis – and they are always treated right away.

New cows, like new mothers may get mastitis – inflammation of the udder – just as you might occasionally get a sore throat. Farmers closely monitor the health of the cows and especially their udder. If any cow is in less than perfect health, she is moved into a hospital barn, away from the rest of the herd, to be nursed back to health.

 

MYTH

Calves and their mothers are separated.

TRUTH

Calves are kept in special playpens for protection.

Calves stay in individual housing – sort of like cribs – when they are first born, to protect them from being stepped on by larger cows and from sharing germs with each other. As they get a little bigger, they’ll socialize with cows their own age, and later join the adult herd.

 

MYTH

Pasteurization destroys the nutrients in milk.

TRUTH

Pasteurization kills germs, not nutrients.

Pasteurization doesn’t reduce the nutritional value of milk.1-2 In fact, processed milk has added vitamin D for a higher nutritional value. Both the FDA and CDC warn against drinking raw milk due to dozens of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses associated with consumption of raw milk products.3-5

1. Campylobacteriosis, unpasteurized milk—USA California. 2008, Aug. International Society for Infectious Diseases; ProMEDmail 20080817.2557
2. USDHHS/FDA/CFSN. The dangers of raw milk: unpasteurized milk can pose a serious health risk. Food Facts.
. Accessed 2011 November.
3. CDC Morbidity Weekly Report. 2009, Mar.
4. Denny J, Bhat M, Eckmann K. 2008. Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 associated with raw milk consumption in the Pacific Northwest. Foodborne Pathog Dis; 5:321-8.
5. Campylobacteriosis, unpasteurized milk—USA Kansas. 2007, Dec. International Society for Infectious Diseases; ProMEDmail 20071205.3922.

 

MYTH

It's not natural for humans to drink cows’ milk; no other mammals drink milk from other animals.

TRUTH

Decades of research have proven that cows’ milk does a human body good.

Humans do a lot of things other mammals don’t. We grow crops, read books and make music. You wouldn’t call those things “unnatural.” In fact, there are other creatures in the animal kingdom that domesticate other animals for food. 

 

MYTH

Dairy farms are bad for the environment.

TRUTH

Dairy farmers are careful to ensure they don’t damage the air, water and soil around them.

Most dairy farmers live and raise families on their farms; here are some ways dairy farmers work hard to protect the air, water and soil in their communities. 

  • Dairy farmers protect the air with special odor-reducing cow diets and air filtration systems.
  • Dairy farmers reuse waste as fertilizer; some even have methane digesters to convert waste into electricity. 
  • Dairy farmers recycle each drop of water, from flushing out barns to irrigating fields.
  • Dairy farms hold to strict environmental standards set by multiple government agencies.
  • Dairy farmers invest in research to find new ways to protect the environment.

 

MYTH

Milk is full of antibiotics.

TRUTH

If milk tests positive for even the slightest amount of antibiotics, it is safely discarded and never reaches the store.

Sick cows are sometimes treated with antibiotics, just like sick people are.

  • These cows are milked separately from the healthy cows until the antibiotics are out of their systems. 
  • All milk is tested before it’s sold, and in the extremely rare cases the milk tests positive for antibiotics, it is safely discarded. 
  • All in all, milk is one of the most highly regulated foods.

 

MYTH

Dairy cows are mistreated.

TRUTH

Dairy farmers work hard 365 days a year to make sure their cows stay healthy and happy.
  • Cows get regular checkups from veterinarians.
  • Cows have access to fresh food and water 24 hours a day.
  • Cows’ diets are specially formulated by nutritionists.
  • Cows live in shelters designed to keep them cool or warm, depending on the climate and season.
  • Cows get manicures to keep their hooves healthy.