Tag Archives: rbST

What Do The Labels Tell You?

26 Nov

Just taking a look at a couple of labels on toothpaste and an “organic” milk carton as examples, what can you find out?

The active ingredient in toothpaste is monofluorophosphate that aids in the prevention of cavities. If you swallow more than that used for brushing, “get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.” It is up to the consumer to weigh the risk and benefits of using toothpaste. Of note in the Wikipedia link is the fact that cavities are formed from the acid that plaque generates. And the production of plaque is fueled by the consumption of carbohydrates and sugar. Not that you would want to, or need to trash your toothpaste, but you might want to consider the impact of carbohydrates and sugar on your teeth.

In the case of the organic milk carton, what can be seen?

Certified Organic is produced without any artificial growth hormones, but what about that asterisk? rbST is an artificial growth hormone. The FDA has determined that “no significant difference has been shown”, between the milk produced using cows that have been treated with rbST and those that have not been treated with rbST.

Again, it is up to the consumer to determine if this is of any impact to their health. What is interesting in this statement on this milk carton is simply the fact that no mention is made to if the milk came from cows treated with rbST. The statement does provide the following insights :

  1. The consumer is now aware that there is an artificial growth hormone that apparently supersedes the definition of “Certified Organic”.
  2. Until “A significant difference between milk derived from rbST supplemented and non-brST supplemented cows” can be shown to the FDA, this approval will remain in effect.

Per FDA guidelines, milk produced from cows not treated with rbST can state on the label: “from cows not treated by rbST”, but this must also contain the statement: “no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows.”

Therefore, we can conclude that the organic milk in this package has been produced with cows treated with rbST, or it would otherwise state “from cows not treated by rbST”. The regulation of such things is performed on a state by state basis, and Ohio has no legislated oversight, therefore the producer would have no way of verifying non-rbST treated cows anyway.

In Canada, Europe and Japan, the use of rbST is prohibited in the dairy industry, so there is no need to such labeling requirements.

Ref: TED Case study #399