Quality Assurance

Common Questions

In the United States, food and agricultural products labeled as organic must be certified by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-accredited certifying agent reflecting production in accordance with USDA organic standards and regulations. Both organic and conventionally-produced milk contain the same combination of nutrients that make dairy foods an important part of a healthy diet. Organic milk is just one choice among many dairy products that can help people meet their nutritional requirements. The vast majority of the United States' dairy product and ingredient portfolio is conventionally produced, with very limited volume of organic production. The USDEC supplier database is searchable for conventional dairy products and ingredients, as well as specifying select product certifications such as "organic".

No. U.S. dairy farmers only use antibiotics to treat sick cows. If a cow is treated with antibiotics, she is taken out of the milking herd until her milk tests free of antibiotics. Furthermore, every tank load of milk entering U.S. dairy processing plants is strictly tested for animal drugs; noncompliant milk is discarded and never reaches the public. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration enforces these rules, which are detailed in the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.

Research shows that the U.S. dairy industry accounts for only about 2 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Dairy farmers are working on ways to reduce that figure even more. A recent dairy lifecycle assessment from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that the global dairy sector contributes about 2.7 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The study also shows that U.S. milk production has the lowest carbon footprint per gallon of milk in the world. View the full report here.    

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is commissioning studies on nutritional value, economic impact and other environmental measures such as water quality and conservation as the industry seeks more ways to work together for a healthy planet.

Numerous scientific studies have indicated that pasteurization does not reduce milk's nutritional value. Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria and saves lives. Pasteurizing milk does not cause lactose intolerance and allergic reactions. Both raw milk and pasteurized milk can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to milk proteins.

The World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other major health organizations have affirmed and reaffirmed that milk and milk products do not contain or transmit Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, known commonly as "mad cow disease").