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Perspectives in Practice

Survey of Retail Milk Composition as Affected by Label Claims Regarding Farm-Management

Practices
JOHN VICINI, PhD; TERRY ETHERTON, PhD; PENNY KRIS-ETHERTON, PhD, RD; JOAN BALLAM, MS; STEVEN DENHAM, PhD; ROBIN STAUB, PhD; DANIEL GOLDSTEIN, MD; ROGER CADY, PhD; MICHAEL MCGRATH, PhD; MATTHEW LUCY, PhD

ABSTRACT

A trend in food labeling is to make claims related to
agricultural management, and this is occurring with
dairy labels. A survey study was conducted to compare
retail milk for quality (antibiotics and bacterial counts),
nutritional value (fat, protein, and solids-not-fat), and
hormonal composition (somatotropin, insulin-like growth
factor-1 [IGF-1], estradiol, and progesterone) as affected
by three label claims related to dairy-cow management:
conventional, recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST)—
free (processor-certified not from cows supplemented with
rbST), or organic (follows US Department of Agriculture
organic practices). Retail milk samples (n=334) from 48
states were collected. Based on a statistical analysis that
reflected the sampling schema and distributions appropriate
to the various response variables, minor differences
were observed for conventional, rbST-free, and organic
milk labels. Conventionally labeled milk had the
lowest (P<0.05) bacterial counts compared to either milk
labeled rbST-free or organic; however, these differences
were not biologically meaningful. In addition, conventionally
labeled milk had significantly less (P<0.05) estradiol
and progesterone than organic milk (4.97 vs 6.40 pg/mL

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