13 Dairy Myths: Busted
by Karen Bakies RD LD FAND
As a mom and registered dietitian I’m frequently debunking myths about dairy foods. I get asked about everything from milk safety to cow care, but my personal favorite is, “Do brown cows give chocolate milk?” We know that’s about as true as pigs flying, but some myths aren’t as easy to spot.
Do brown cows give chocolate milk?
- What’s the difference between organic and regular milk? In terms of quality, safety and nutrition, there’s no difference between organic and regular milk. The difference is how they are produced on the farm.
- Is organic milk better for me and my family than regular milk? No. Organic and regular milk are equally as good for you. In terms of quality, safety and nutrition, there’s no difference between organic and regular milk.
- What’s the difference between milk and non-dairy alternatives? Every 8 ounce glass of real cow’s milk contains 9 essential nutrients and has just three ingredients: milk, vitamin A and vitamin D. Milk alternatives, such as almond and soy, are fortified to mimic the nutrient profile available in cow’s milk, and often have a long list of ingredients.
- Are there antibiotics in my milk? No. All milk — both regular and organic – is tested for antibiotics. Sometimes a sick cow will get medicine to feel better, but their milk never goes into the regular milk supply. Plus, any milk that would test positive for antibiotics would have to be dumped — that’s the law.
- Why do farmers treat cows with antibiotics? Sometimes, cows get sick, just as some humans do. Without proper medical care, the cows would become seriously ill or die. So, it is simply humane to treat them — and make them well again with medications prescribed by veterinarians. The milk from a treated cow is disposed of, and does not enter the food supply.
- Can I still enjoy dairy if I am lactose intolerant? Yes. Try lactose-free milk and milk products. They are real milk products, just without the lactose. Natural cheeses are also a good option because they’re naturally low in lactose, as well as yogurts, which have live and active cultures to help to digest lactose.
- Is raw (unpasteurized) milk safe to drink? No. Milk should be pasteurized, it’s a matter of food safety. Pasteurization is a simple, effective method to kill potentially harmful bacteria without affecting the taste or nutritional value of milk.
- Are there pesticides in my milk? No. Stringent government standards ensure that all milk, both regular and organic, is safe, pure and nutritious. The most recent government testing found that all of the milk samples tested were found completely free from pesticide residue.
- Are there hormones added to my milk? No. Hormones are naturally present in many foods of plant and animal origin, including milk. Some farmers choose to supplement some of their cows with additional bST, to increase milk production, but science shows that there is no effect on hormone levels in the milk itself.
- What is rbST or BGH? Bovine somatotropin (bST) is a hormone that occurs naturally in all cows, and its physiological function is to help direct milk production. Through biotechnology, scientists have created a synthesized copy of bST — which some dairy farmers choose to use as a milk production management tool on some cows.
- Is chocolate milk good for my family? Yes. Milk — whether white or chocolate — plays a vital role in helping Americans, especially children, get the nutrients they need for good health. Flavored milk provides the same nine essential nutrients as white milk.
- Are dairy foods a good source of protein? Yes. An 8 ounce glass of milk has 8 grams of high-quality protein — that’s more than an egg!
- Is milk a nutritious option for my family? Yes. Milk is packed with nine essential nutrients: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D & B12, riboflavin and niacin.