Are There Illegal Residues in Your Milk?

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is sitting on information that could prove whether there are dangerous and illegal drug residues in U.S. milk, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

In 2012, FDA conducted a survey to try and determine if illegal drugs were winding up in milk after CSPI reviewed drug-testing reports finding that animals coming from dairy farms accounted for 67 percent of reported drug-residue violations at slaughter. In some cases, the reported residues were for drugs that are not approved for use in cattle. (You won't believe these other 10 crazy beef facts.)

According to CSPI, FDA has told consumer groups that it intends to make the raw data available when it releases its report, but the report has been delayed. In an attempt to get that information into the hands of the public, CSPI filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the FDA's survey data. "Consumers have a right to know what's in their milk, and if there are dangerous drugs in it, they need to know what FDA is doing about that," says David Plunkett, senior food safety attorney at CSPI. "Why are those dairies that either can't or won't follow the rules allowed to continue to market milk?"

He adds: "The agency doesn't get to hide information from the public by simply failing to write up a report on what it thinks the data show."

While FDA has stopped some dairy farms that have drug-residue violations from selling their cattle for meat, the agency typically does not extend that prohibition to a dairy's milking operation, according to CSPI.

Drink milk? Be sure to choose organic. Organic milk from grass-fed cows has been proven to be much healthier, and organic certification bans the use of drugs and hormones. The cows must also be fed organic food grown without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, and GMOs.

Want to avoid cow's milk altogether? You have options. (After all, a recent study found milk might actually hurt your bones.)

Milk Alternatives
"There are so many choices," says Alicia Silverstone, author of The Kind Mama and The Kind Diet. "Just so you know, every type of 'milk' on the market has a distinct taste—even among soy milks, there are different tastes and textures. Some are slightly sweetened. Explore and play with the choices as you find those that work best for you."

Silverstone, recommends:
• Rice milk
Almond milk
Hemp milk
• Coconut milk
• Soy milk.

Just be sure your milk replacements don't contain this harmful ingredient.

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