Reaching into the grocer’s dairy case for that ubiquitous jug of milk may seem like second nature to those of us who plan meals and shop for foodstuffs on a regular basis. We all display a certain “color cap” preference during the grab too, indicating our allegiance to skim milk, 2% or perhaps the rich, frothy whole milk of childhood cookie chow-downs.

The next time you reach for your favorite permutation of this hearty beverage, however, you may want to search beyond the fat content and take a closer look at the labeling information on the container. Milk “from cows not treated with rBST/rBGH” sounds like it would be the preferred choice of the savvy consumer, but just why is it labeled this way? It’s time to unravel the convoluted reason for this phrasing.

What exactly is rBST/rBGH?

The acronyms rBST and rBGH refer to recombinant bovine somatotropin and recombinant bovine growth hormone respectively. rBST can otherwise be known as rBGH, and it is administered to milk cows for the purpose of increasing milk production. Cows receive scheduled injections to increase milk production by up to about 15 percent.2 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved these genetically engineered hormones for use in 1993, and they entered the consumer milk supply in 1994.1 Shortly thereafter, exposure to these hormones became inconclusively linked to the rise in (early) precocious puberty among American youngsters.

Bottom line?

Labeling is not required by law. Some brands will state that their milk is “rBGH-free” and organic dairies also do not use rBGH. Either of these are preferable to milk that contains this dangerous hormone.  It is not recommended to drink any kind of pasteurized milk, organic or otherwise.3

How can you avoid these risks?

You can avoid both of the risks above by only drinking raw milk which is always best to get from a local farmer.  Don’t forget to also get your grass fed beef from that local farmer.  This is the best way to protect your health and that of your children


1Grace, J (2015, March, 12). What the labels on your milk mean– and what they don’t. retrieved January 31 2017, from Harvest Public Media Web Site:

2O’Brien, R (2015, February, 4). Dirty Dairy: Why Breyer’s Ice Cream Dumped Artificial Growth Hormones. retrieved January 31 2017, from Robyn O’Brien Web Site:

3 “The Alarming Reason Why More Girls are Starting Puberty Early.” Mercola, 26 Aug. 2010. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.