How Proper Milk Segregation Ensures Fair Compensation & Transparency
In recent years, food producers have gone to greater and greater lengths to provide comprehensive information about how their goods are produced. It’s increasingly easy for consumers to make informed decisions about their food. That’s why today’s consumer has so many options from which to choose when it comes to different kinds of staple food products like milk and cheese.
Today, we’re looking beyond the label to learn more about organic, conventional, BST-free and kosher certifications. What do these tell us about how milk makes the journey from farm to table?
What is BST?
Bovine Somatotropin (BST or bST) is a naturally-occurring protein hormone secreted by cows’ pituitary glands. Like the equivalent (HST) does for humans, BST helps regulate a cow’s growth and metabolic functions. Some farmers elect to supplement their cows’ BST to increase milk production, since doing so can yield 9-13 pounds more milk per cow per day (a 10-15% increase in production). For many, this is a significant step towards increasing production efficiency, and may even help reduce the ecological impact of dairy farming.
According to Purdue University, BST is perhaps the most well-researched molecule in food-animal production, with more than 2,000 publications on the subject. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, and designated as safe for use in animals by the World Health Organization’s Committee on Food Additives in 1998. It has a proven track record of safety, and is used in dairy production by countries around the world.
BST, or BST-free? Why Haulers Need to Know
Just like some consumers have a preference for organic milk, some prefer to their milk to be BST-free, even if this milk may cost slightly more to purchase. That’s why it’s important for BST-free milk to be transported and processed separately from BST milk. It’s also important to differentiate because farmers earn a premium for BST-free milk.
Milk haulers need to make sure that they don’t collect both types of milk on the same run, since this would cause the two types to mix in the truck’s tank and require the whole load to be treated as containing BST. Additionally, some dairy plants only process one or the other type of milk, so haulers must ensure that they bring the right load to the right plant.
Haulers thus have an important role to play in maintaining the segregation of different milk types, so that consumers get the milk they prefer, and so that farmers earn the rates they deserve for their products.
Other Milk Types: Organic and Kosher
In addition to BST or BST-free, milk can also receive organic and/or kosher certification. Organic refers to the farm’s management practices—not to the milk itself. In addition to the stringent health and safety criteria established by the FDA, organic farms must satisfy the requirements of the USDA’s National Organic Program, including using only organic feed, fertilizer and pesticides, and not using rBST (the synthetic or recombitantly derived form of BST).
A kosher designation means that the company producing the milk works under the supervision of a rabbi to ensure that no non-kosher additives or processes were used in its production, for those who follow this religious observance.
Milk production in the U.S. is highly regulated, and food safety laws are stringent and well enforced. The result is that all types of milk are of high quality, nutritious and safe to consume. Rest assured that regardless of your milk preference, choosing dairy is a healthy choice.