Consumers are speaking and dairy manufacturers seem to be listening. Both General Mills (makers of Yoplait) and Dannon are phasing out the use of milk from cows that have been treated with rBST in their yogurt products.

Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST) is the synthetic growth hormone that is given to cows to make them grow bigger so that they can produce more milk. It is completely unnecessary for the health of the cow, and many studies show it is actually harmful to the cow. In fact, in 1999, Canada banned its use because of its effects on cows and it is also banned in New Zealand, Australia and parts of Europe.

A month ago, General Mills announced that it would:

eliminate by August 2009 milk sourced from cows treated with rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin), a synthetic hormone also referred to as rBGH, in the production of its category-leading Yoplait® yogurts.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Institutes of Health remain fully confident in the safety of products made from milk sourced from cows treated with rBST in accordance with current guidelines, Yoplait is taking the initiative to change its dairy sourcing strategy to provide consumers with the option to choose a category-leading yogurt with milk produced by cows not treated with rBST.

A couple of weeks later, Dannon made a similar announcement.
Dannon said its entire product range in the US will be free of the much criticized dairy cow growth hormone by the end of this year.

The company, which claims 80 percent of its milk is already ‘rBST free’, said the move is a result of consumer feedback. “This is a response to our market evaluation and consumer preference,” Dannon’s senior director of public relations Michael Neuwirth told

I think this is really amazing. Consumers are letting it be known that they want these unnecessary chemicals taken out of their dairy products, and companies are beginning to listen without being forced by the government to do so. Many consumers are concerned not only with the effects that rBST has on the cows, but also on milk the cows produce. Although the FDA says it's completely safe, many people are concerned that the growth hormone given to the cows is being passed on to children in the milk and other dairy products from these cows. I'm one of them, and I stopped serving my family diary products from cows treated with the hormone some time ago.
I wonder if consumers demand that they stop using artificial dyes and high fructose corn syrup, the companies will stop using them, too.

I haven’t bought either Yoplait or Dannon yogurts in a long time because I’ve been unhappy with their lists of ingredients. I opt for organic yogurt, and my children have adjusted just fine to them. It’s good to know that for those who still choose the conventional yogurts, especially for their kids, that at least they’ll be rBST-free soon.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Yogurts going rBST-free
Good news: Two popular brands of yogurt are going rBST-free because consumers have spoken out.