Fact Check: Dairy Makes Sense For Safe, Healthy Eat­ing

McDonald County Press - - COUNTY -

LA­MAR — Dairy prod­ucts are packed with nu­tri­tion com­ing from nine es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents that are im­por­tant for health. It is also a good value since milk costs about 25 cents per glass.

The 2015 Di­etary Guide­lines for Amer­i­cans rec­om­mends three serv­ings of low fat or fat-free dairy foods ev­ery day.

“If you aren’t al­ready get­ting three serv­ings of dairy, you can make oat­meal or in­stant mashed pota­toes with milk in­stead of wa­ter. Try to serve cheese with fruits, veg­gies and whole grain crack­ers. Maybe throw to­gether a yo­gurt par­fait for a de­li­cious and nu­tri­tious break­fast, snack or dessert,” said Lind­sey Steven­son, nu­tri­tion and health spe­cial­ist for Univer­sity of Mis­souri Ex­ten­sion.

For some con­sumers, there is a grow­ing con­cern about the health and safety of cow’s milk. Ac­cord­ing to Steven­son, those myths need to be de­bunked so ev­ery­one can ben­e­fit from the af­ford­able nu­tri­tion that dairy prod­ucts of­fer.

An­tibi­otics And Hor­mones

Ev­ery morn­ing lo­cal dairy farm­ers wake up to milk their cows. The milk trav­els from the par­lor into a re­frig­er­ated bulk tank where it waits un­til the hauler comes, al­most ev­ery day.

The milk hauler sam­ples the farm’s milk be­fore con­nect­ing his hose to the truck. He will then travel to three to four other farms to com­plete his load. Once full, the stain­less steel truck drives to the pro­cess­ing plant.

“Ev­ery truck across the na­tion is sam­pled at this point to check for an­tibi­otics and other im­pu­ri­ties. All milk, re­gard­less of la­bel, is an­tibi­otic free and has been for decades,” said Rea­gan Bluel, dairy spe­cial­ist for Univer­sity of Mis­souri Ex­ten­sion.

An­other con­cern con­sumers of­ten have is whether there are hor­mones in their milk.

“All mam­mals have hor­mones, in­clud­ing hu­mans. Bovine so­ma­totropin (BST) is a pro­tein hor­mone that is present in all cows and is sim­i­lar to hu­man so­ma­totropin, an­other pro­tein hor­mone. The BST in milk will be di­gested and seen by the body as a pro­tein,” said Bluel.

Re­gard­less of la­bel, all cow’s milk con­tains BST as it is nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring in all cows.

Then the ques­tion arises about added hor­mones. This is likely a con­cern about re­com­bi­nant bovine so­ma­totropin, or rBST. Dairy farm­ers who use rBST do so to in­crease milk pro­duc­tion.

“By us­ing this tool, the dairy farm can pro­duce the same amount of milk with fewer an­i­mals, and there­fore, a smaller car­bon foot print. Cur­rently, 20 to 25 per­cent of dairy cows are no longer us­ing this technology, typ­i­cally due to pro­ces­sor re­quest,” Bluel ex­plained.

Pas­teur­iza­tion And Hom­g­e­niza­tion

There is also con­sumer con­cern that pas­teur­iza­tion and ho­mog­e­niza­tion af­fect the nu­tri­tion qual­ity of the milk. In fact, pas­teur­iza­tion and ho­mog­e­niza­tion en­sure that the milk is safe to drink.

Pas­teur­iza­tion is the process of heat­ing the milk to kill bac­te­ria and ho­mog­e­niza­tion is the process by which the fat droplets and the liq­uid com­po­nents are blended, so they do not sep­a­rate.

Mis­led, and in search of other op­tions, some con­sumers have turned to milk al­ter­na­tives, even though dairy de­liv­ers on what con­sumers look for in clean la­bels: no ar­ti­fi­cial in­gre­di­ents, fla­vors, or preser­va­tives and in­gre­di­ents that are easy to read and rec­og­nize.

“Cow’s milk offers more qual­ity pro­tein and cal­cium than milk al­ter­na­tives. It has just three in­gre­di­ents: Milk, vi­ta­min A and vi­ta­min D, whereas milk al­ter­na­tives have eight to 12 in­gre­di­ents, in­clud­ing added sugar and salt,” said Steven­son.

More In­for­ma­tion

For more in­for­ma­tion on nu­tri­tion, con­tact any of these nu­tri­tion spe­cial­ists in south­west Mis­souri: Dr. Pam Duits­man in Greene County at 417-881-8909; Lind­sey Gor­don Steven­son in Bar­ton County at 417-682-3579; Stephanie John­son in How­ell County at 417-256-2391; or Mary Se­bade in Dal­las County at 417-345-7551.

The re­gional of­fice of the Fam­ily Nu­tri­tion Ed­u­ca­tion Program is lo­cated in Springfield and can be reached at 417-8862059.

Nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion is also avail­able on­line at ex­ten­sion.mis­souri.edu.

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