Misunderstandings about antibiotics in milk make it #WorththeFight

If you follow or have tried to follow The Magic FarmHouse recently you know that I’ve been in a blogging slump. Thanks to Carrie Mess, aka Dairy Carrie and Cody Canada and The Departed, I’ve been pulled out of that slump. Carrie organized a remarkable event which took place yesterday. The event was called #WorthTheFight was in honor of Cody & the guys of The Departed’s newest single called Worth the fight. The single is their most recent radio release. You can read yesterday’s post about why education is still #WorththeFight for me. Today, I want to share yet another reason its worth the efforts of educating people about their food.

One of the food issues that’s been bothering me as of late is the misperception created around antibiotics in milk. I believe that many times antibiotics and hormones are grouped together as being the same elements in milk. In fact, I recently read a post from a well known blogger who indicated milk is full of antibiotics. It is true that milk contains naturally occurring HORMONES and at times milk producers may provide their animals with additional hormones resulting in an increase of milk. It is also true that farmers may need to utilize antibiotics when their animals are ill. The statement that antibiotics are in the milk you purchase at the store is untrue. Let’s see why…

So, what is an antibiotic and how is it used?

Gotta love Jersey’s!

When a dairy cow is sick, the milk quality is affected and the animal may be suffering. The antibiotics are given in an effort to help the animal back to wellness. The same applies for humans. A prime example would be if one of my sons would become ill with a head cold aka virus. The virus itself will not respond to antibiotic treatment. However, if that virus causes drainage the kids could end up with ear infections (happens too often in our household). The antibiotic is then warranted by their physician (this example only applies to my family’s, please always consult with your doctor in regards to the proper treatment).

When a cow is given an antibiotic, the milk is discarded and CANNOT be sent onto to the dairy for processing. Milk is strictly tested for antibiotics on the farm and at the processing plant. Any milk that tests positive for antibiotics CANNOT BE SOLD TO THE PUBLIC! Our milk ensues vigorous testing. It is first tested for antibiotics before it enters the tank on the truck AND again when it arrives at the dairy (among other testing). In addition to these strict U.S. government standards when a cow has been given a medication their milk is dumped for a specified period of time. This is a with drawl period that allows for the medication to be flushed out of the cows body. This process is very similar to when we dump our own breast milk after taking certain medications and/or foods.

Now let’s talk hormones…

Our bodies are regulated by hormones, among other factors. Or, in my case unregulated…thus my monthly meltdowns when I can become a crazy woman. Just as these hormones play an important part in our bodies, they are also present in a cow’s body. These naturally occurring hormones can be found in small amounts in their milk as it can in the milk women produce when breastfeeding. Did you know that if you breastfeed your baby, your body naturally releases the hormone Oxytocin? You also produce estrogen and progesterone which makes milk production possible for your child.* In my opinion, this is how we were built and how we are meant to function.

Hormones can also affect the amount of milk you are able to provide to your baby just as they can help cows produce more milk. There is a debate surrounding the hormone Bovine somatotropin (abbreviated bST and BST), or BGH, is a peptide hormone produced by the cow’s pituitary gland.[1] Like other hormones, it is produced in small quantities and is used in regulating metabolic processes.[1] Since 1994 it has been possible to synthesize the hormone using recombinant DNA technology to create recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), or artificial growth hormone. (more info can be found at Wikipedia which does appear to be accurate & up-to-date). The use of rbST was approved by The Food and Drug Administration in 1993. The FDA found that there is no significant difference between milk derived from rbST-treated cows and non-rbST treated cows. 

With that said, many dairies do not accept milk with the rBST hormones. Due to customers desire for rBST-free milk, our

Baclava~This cow passed away shortly after this picture was taken. She was 18 yrs old, a great cow & the third highest producing cow in the country the year before she passed.

dairy, Prairie Farms, is one which does not allow the use of those additional hormones. Again, this is due to due market demand, and is not related to any health or safety issues. So you may find some of our rBST-free AND antibiotic free milk on the shelves of your favorite grocer.

I have nothing against bloggers who may have recently confused antibiotics and hormones. I do encourage people to seek accurate information and sources before publishing on the web. These types of misunderstandings are what makes it #WorththeFight, to educate everyone about milk production and farming in general. I do hope that this has clarified both topics and you can feel comfortable shopping for safe and nutritious milk.

I welcome any other questions or confusion you might have about your milk or agriculture in general! Please take some time & get to know your farmers!

Over and out!

*Credit: The Baby Center Medical Advisory Board

**This is not an endorsement for Prairie Farms…just my two cents.
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