A Brief History of Cow’s Milk

Ancient World
(8000 B.C.E.-63 B.C.E.)
Colonial America
19th Century
20th Century
21st Century

8000-6000 B.C.E.

Origins of the Domestic Cow

Artist rendition of an Auroch,
Ancestor of the modern cow

Aurochs, the wild descendants of modern cows, once ranged over large areas of Asia, Europe and North Africa.
Aurochs were first domesticated 8,000 to 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent area of the Near East and evolved into two types of domestic cattle, the humped Zebu (Bos indicus) and the humpless European Highland cattle (Bos taurus).

Some scientists believe that domesticated cattle from the Fertile Crescent spread throughout Eurasia, while others believe that a separate domestication event took place in the area of India and Pakistan.
Straus Family Creamery  “History of the Cow,” www.strausfamilycreamery.com (accessed Oct. 23, 2007)

4000 B.C.E.

Neolithic Britian

Milk Cooking Pots

Through analyzing degraded fats on unearthed potshards, scientists have discovered that Neolithic farmers in Britain and Northern Europe may have been some of the first to begin milking cattle for human consumption.The dairying activities of these European farmers may have begun as early as 6,000 years ago. According to scientists, the ability to digest milk was slowly gained some time between 5000-4000 B.C.E. by the spread of a genetic mutation called lactase persistance that allowed post-weaned humans to continue to digest milk.

If that date is correct, it may pre-date the rise of other major cow based dairying civilizations in the Near East, India, and North Africa.
Discovery Channel  “Early Brits Were Original Cheeseheads,” (Discovery Channel Website; accessed Oct. 8, 2007)

BBC  “Early Man ‘Couldn’t Stomach Milk’,” www.bbc.co.uk (accessed Oct. 30, 2007)

3000-2500 B.C.E.


Dairy Scene
Temple of Ninhursag

Although there is evidence of cattle domestication in Mesopotamia as early as 8000 B.C.E. the milking of dairy cows did not become a major part of Sumerian civilization until approximately 3000 B.C.E.It is documented that the Ancient Sumerians drank cow’s milk and also made cows milk into cheeses and butters.

The picture to the left is a carved dairy scene found in the temple of Ninhursag in the Sumerian city of Tell al-cUbaid. The scene, which shows typical dairy activities such as milking, straining and making butter, dates to the first half of the third millennium B.C.E.
Karen Rhea Nemeth-Nejat  Daily Life In Ancient Mesopotamia, 2002

3100-332 B.C.E.

Ancient Egypt

Milking a Cow
Stone Carving, Ancient Egypt

At least as early as 3100 B.C.E., the domesticated cow had spread, or had been separately domesticated, in Northern Africa.In Ancient Egypt, it is documented that the domesticated cow played a major role in Egyptian agriculture and spirituality.

Attesting to its central role in Egyptian life, the cow was deified in Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Egyptians “held the cow sacred and dedicated her to Isis, goddess of agriculture; but more than that, the cow was a goddess in her own right, named Hathor, who guarded the fertility of the land.”
Ron Schmid  The Untold Story of Milk, 2003

2000-500 B.C.E.

Ancient India

By 2000 B.C.E, the domesticated cow had spread to Northern India, coinciding with the arrival of the Aryan nomads.The Vedic civilization that ruled Northern India from about 1750 BCE to about 500 BCE relied heavily upon the cow and the dairy products that it provided.

The heavy dependence on the cow was reinforced by the Vedas (the religious epics of the Hindu religion) wherein the cow was considered a sacred animal.
Reay Tannahill  Food in History, 1973

Sacred Cow Bhagavad-gita
1700-63 B.C.E.

Milk in the Bible

“The ancient Hebrews, whose civilzation co-existed with that of Crete, held milk in high favor; the earliest Hebrew scriptures contain abundant evidence of the widespread use of milk from very early times. The Old Testament refers to a ‘land which floweth with milk and honey‘ some twenty times. The phrase describes Palestine as a land of extraordinary fertility, providing all the comforts and necessities of life. In all, the Bible contains some fifty references to milk and milk products.”
Ron Schmid  The Untold Story of Milk, 2003


Colonial Mexico

“The first cattle to arrive in the New World landed in Vera Cruz, Mexico, in 1525. Soon afterword, some made their way across the Rio Grande to proliferate in the wild. Thye became known as ‘Texas Cattle.’ Soon after, some of the [Spanish] settlers transported cattle to South America from the Canary Islands and Europe. More followed, and cattle multiplied rapidly throughout New Spain, numbering in the thousands within a few years.”
Ron Schmid  The Untold Story of Milk, 2003

Colonial Plymouth

The first cows were brought to the Puritan colony of Plymouth in the year 1624 by Edward Winslow.“The cattle present in 1627 in Plymouth included black, red, white-backed and white-bellied varieties. The black cattle may have been of a breed or similar to those today called Kerrys. Kerry cattle are descended from ancient Celtic cattle and were originally Native to County Kerry Ireland…While Kerrys were not imported into England from Ireland until the 1800s, the native English breed of black cow may originated from the same ancient Celtic stock.
Craig S. Chartier  “Livestock in Plymouth Colony,” Plymouth Archaeological Rediscovery Project website (accessed Oct. 9, 2007)

Spanish California Missions

“The Jesuit Priest, Eusebio Kino, introduced cattle to Baja California in 1679 as part of the missionary effort to establish mission settlements… Milk became a blessing to missionaries in time of need.”In response to a food shortage in 1772, Junipero Serra stated that “…milk from the cows and some vegetables from the garden have been [our] cheif subsistence.”

In 1776, at the Mission San Gabriel, Father Font wrote that “The cows are very fat and they give much and rich milk, which they [Mission Indian Women] make cheese and very good butter.”
Robert L. Santos  “Dairying in California through 1910,” Southern California Quarterly, Summer 1994

Early 1800s

Milk Maids & the Smallpox Vaccine

Man Receiving Smallpox Vaccination

In the 18th century it was common folk knowledge in Europe that milk maids (women who milked cows) seemed to be immune from the smallpox plagues when they swept through Europe.In 1796, English physician Edward Jenner developed a vaccine for smallpox based upon this folk knowledge.

“Recognizing that dairymaids infected with cowpox were immune to small-pox, Jenner deliberately infected James Phipps, an eight year old boy, with cowpox in 1796. He then exposed Phipps to smallpox-which Phipps failed to contract. After repeating the experiment on other children, including his own son, Jenner concluded that vaccination provided immunity to smallpox�”

In the United States, compulsory smallpox vaccination was introduced on a state by state basis, beginning in the early 1800s.
United States National Library of Medicine  “Smallpox A Great and Terrible Scourge,” National Library of Medicine website (accessed Oct. 31, 2007)


Distillery Dairies

Gooderham & Worts Distillery/Dairy

In the early 19th century the alcohol distillery business in the United States began to grow. Large amounts of swill (spent-grains) were produced as a byproduct of whisky and other alcohol production. Many distilleries began to open up dairies and began feeding their dairy cows with the waste swill from the alcohol distilleries. The low nutritional content of the swill lead to sickness in the cows and in the humans who drank their milk.“Confined to filthy, manure-filled pens, the unfortunate cows gave a pale, bluish milk so poor in quality, it couldn’t even be used for making butter or cheese.”
Raw-Milk-Facts.com  “A Brief History of Raw Milk,” www.raw-milk-facts.com (accessed Oct. 9, 2007)


Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

Louis Pasteur was a French born chemist and biologist who helped to prove the “germ theory” of illness with his many scientific expirements.Pasteur is famous for having applied the “germ theory” to solve problems relating to food born illness. With his experiements he demonstrated that bacteria were responsible for souring beer, wine, and milk.

In order to kill these bacteria, Pasteur developed a process whereby the liquids were rapidly heated and cooled to kill the bacteria. This process is now called pasteurisation.
BBC  “Louis Pasteur (1822-1895),” www.bbc.co.uk (accessed Oct. 8, 2007)

Mar. 23, 1883

New York Milk War

New York City Milk Seller, 1883
Harpers Weekly

In 1883 a struggle broke out between milk farmers/producers and milk distribution companies in New-York known as the “Milk War.”Milk farmers demanded a higher price for their milk and when the distribution companies that bought their milk refused to pay them more they organized a direct action.

Milk farmers in the countryside organized “spilling committees” where local farmers blocked roads, seized shipments and dumped their milk out instead of selling it to the distributors in the city.

These “spilling committees” created a “milk famine” in New York City and forced the milk distribution companies to pay them higher prices for their milk.
New York Times  “The Milk War,” Mar. 23, 1883


First Milk Bottles

Antique Milk Bottles

“One of the first glass milk bottles was patented in 1884 by Dr. Henry Thatcher, after seeing a milkman making deliveries from an open bucket into which a child’s filthy rag doll had accidentally fallen. By 1889, his Thatcher’s Common Sense Milk Jar had become an industry standard. It was sealed with a waxed paper disc that was pressed into a groove inside the bottle’s neck. The milk bottle, and the regular morning arrival of the milkman, remained a part of American life until the 1950s, when waxed paper cartons of milk began appearing in markets.”
How Products are made  “Milk,” www.madehow.com (accessed Oct. 22, 2007)


Certification of Milk

Distributing Certified Raw milk
Dr. Henry L. Coit’s “Baby Keep Well” clinic, 1906

In the mid to late 1800s milk born illness was a major problem.Milk produced at unhygienic production facilities (like distillery dairies) served as a medium to spread diseases like typhoid and tuberculosis. These diseases created a public health crisis that lead to skyrocketing infant mortality in the cities.

As a result, “[i]n 1889, two years before the death of his son from contaminated milk, Newark, New Jersey doctor Henry Coit, MD urged the creation of a Medical Milk Commission to oversee or ‘certify’ production of milk for cleanliness, finally getting one formed in 1893.”
Raw-Milk-Facts.com  “A Brief History of Raw Milk” (www.raw-milk-facts.com; accessed Oct. 9, 2007)


Commercial Pasteurization Begins

In 1895, commercial pasteurizing machines for milk are introduced in the United States.
International Dairy Foods Association  “Important Dates in Milk History,” www.idfa.org (accessed Oct. 8, 2007)

Milk Homogenizer Patented

Modern Milk
Homogenization Machine

“In 1899 Auguste Gaulin obtained a patent on his homogenizer. The patent consisted of a 3 piston pump in which product was forced through one or more hair like tubes under pressure.”The process of homogenizatin breaks down the large fat globules in milk into tiny ones.

The process prevents the cream from seperating and rising to the top as it does in un-homoginized milk.
Dairy Heritage  “History,” www.dairyheratige.com (accessed Oct. 8, 2007)


Typhoid Epidemic

The New York Times reported that in 1913 a large typhoid epidemic in New York City was attributed to contaminated milk.
New York Times  “Bad Milk Causes Typhoid,” Sep. 19, 1913

Milk Tankers

The first tank trucks for transporting milk were put into service in 1914.
International Dairy Foods Association  “Important Dates in Milk History” (www.idfa.org; accessed Oct. 8, 2007)

Milk Tanker Truck, 1928

Mandatory Pasteurization Begins

“By 1917, pasteurization of all milk except that from cows proven to be free of tuberculosis was either required or officially encouraged in 46 of the country’s 52 largest cities. The porportion of milk pasteurized in these cities ranged from 10 percent to 97 percent; in most is was well over 50 percent.”
Ron Schmid  The Untold Story of Milk, 2003

Capper-Volstead Act Passed

In 1922 the 67th Congress passed the Capper-Volstead Act.The Act allowed producers of Agricultural Products, such as milk, to “act together in associations” to organize collective processing, preparation for market, handling, and marketing of milk and other agricultural goods.

The Act was of historical significance as it granted producers of milk and other agricultural products special exemptions from monopoly laws in an effort to raise the price paid to farmers for their agricultural products.
Capper-Volstead Act   11KB


Sioux City Milk War

In 1933 milk producers in Iowa organized a strike for higher milk prices.One of the main tactics farmers used during the strike was to block roads and prevent milk from being shipped to Sioux City.

In one instance, strikers opened fire on a truck driver who was trying to get past a road blockade they had set up, seriously injuring four of the passengers.
New York Times  “4 Shot in Milk War on Sioux City Road,” Feb. 4, 1933


First Milk Marketing Orders Initiated

“Milk marketing orders came into existence as a result of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937…The rationale for the legislation was to reduce disorderly marketing conditions, improve price stability in fluid milk markets, and ensure a sufficient quantity of pure and wholesome milk.The orders are regulations approved by dairy farmers in individual fluid milk markets that require manufacturers to pay minimum monthly prices for milk purchases.”
Citizens Against Government Waste  “Milk Marketing Order Reform: Watered Down or Real?,” Jan. 20, 1998
Aug. 28, 1939

Dariy Farmers Union Strike

Dariy Farmers Union Symbol

Archie Wright
DFU organizer

Dairy farmers in the countryside outside New York City were hit hard by the Great Depression.Milk prices in New York City fell to the point that the milk distributors in the cities were paying farmers less for milk than it cost to produce.

To counter this trend, dairy farmers organized the Dairy Farmers Union (DFU) and went on strike. Led by Archie Wright, a former organizer for the radical Industrial Workers of the World, the Dairy Farmers Union was organized.

During the 1939 strike, DFU members blocked roads and halted market-bound trucks. They confiscated milk and spilled it out on the roadsides. In some cases they threw bottles of kerosene on trucks that did not stop. The picketers physically fought non-strikers who tried to get past them and also fought against State troopers who came to intervene.
Time Magazine  “Milk Without Honey,” Aug. 28, 1939

June 4, 1940

First Federal Milk Program for Schools

“Federal assistance in providing milk for school children has been in operation since June 4, 1940, when a federally subsidized program was begun in Chicago. It was limited to 15 elementary schools with a total enrollment of 13,256 children. The schools selected were located in low-income areas of the city. The price to the children was 1 cent per one-half pint, and children who could not pay were given milk free, the cost being paid through donations by interested persons.”
United States Department of Agriculture  “The National School Lunch Program Background and Development,” www.usda.com (accessed Oct. 17, 2007)

Federally Subsidized Milk Advertising

Milk Advertisement
WPA art program, 1940

Milk Advertisement
WPA art program, 1940

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was formed on May 6, 1935 as a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal plan to bring the United States out of the Great Depression.The WPA differed from other New Deal programs in that it focused on providing work for artists, educators, writers, and musicians.

The two posters pictured here were painted by artists under commission from the WPA. Like many WPA projects, these paintings served a dual purpose: to employ artists and to create increased demand for milk. As such, these paintings (and many others like them) were a form of federally subsidized dairy advertising.

At its height, the WPA employed over 3 million people.
Margaret Bing  “A Brief Overview of the WPA,” www.broward.org (accessed Oct. 16, 2007)


National School Lunch Act Passed

In 1946, President Harry Truman signed the National School Lunch Act into law. The Act was designed to provide nutritious lunches to the nations children. The reasoning behind the Act was laid out in its text: “It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress, as a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation’s children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities and other food, by assisting the States, through grants-in aid and other means, in providing an adequate supply of food and other facilities for the establishment, maintenance, operation and expansion of nonprofit school lunch programs.�The Secretary of Agriculture prescribed three types of lunches which would be acceptable under the Act, designed as Type A, Type B, and Type C.

It was mandated that each lunch include between 1/2-2 pints of whole milk.
United States Department of Agriculture  “The National School Lunch Program Background and Development,” www.usda.com (accessed Oct. 17, 2007)


Square Milk Carton Introduced

Vintage paper milk cartons

In the 1950s and 1960s many dairies began to introduce the square paper carton to replace bottles.The square shape allowed more milk to be carried/displayed in a given space than the old glass bottles did.

The new paper cartons also reduced the cost of milk for consumers since disposable paper cartons were cheaper than glass bottles.
Doug and Lindas Dairy Antique Site  “Wax Milk Containers,” www.dairyantiques.com (accessed Oct. 10, 2007)

Oct. 11, 1966

Child Nutrition Act of 1966 & the Special Milk Program

The Child Nutrition Act of 1966, signed into law on October 11, 1966 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, authorized the Special Milk Program (SMP).“The SMP provides milk free of charge or at a low cost to children in schools and child care institutions that do not participate in other Federal child nutrition meal service programs. The federally assisted program reimburses schools for the milk they serve.”
School Nutrition Association  “Program History & Data,” (www.schoolnutrition.org; accessed Oct. 17, 2007)

Nutrition Labeling of Fluid Milk Begins

Voulantary nutrition labelinig on fluid milk products is initiated after FDA advises that all foods should have nutrition labels.
International Dairy Foods Association  “Important Dates in Milk History,” www.idfa.org (accessed Oct. 8, 2007)

Dairy Act of 1983 & Creation of the National Dairy Board

“The Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983 (Dairy Act) authorized a national producer program for dairy product promotion, research, and nutrition education to increase human consumption of milk and dairy products and reduce milk surpluses. This self-help program is funded by a mandatory 15-cent-per-hundredweight assessment on all milk produced in the contiguous 48 States and marketed commercially by dairy farmers. It is administered by the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (Dairy Board). The Dairy Act provides that dairy farmers can direct up to 10 cents per hundredweight of the assessment for contributions to qualified regional, State, or local dairy product promotion, research, or nutrition education programs.”
United States Department of Agriculture  “National Dairy Promotion & Research Program: Overview, Structure, and History,” www.usda.gov (accessed Oct. 16, 2007)

Fluid Milk Promotion Act

In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the Fluid Milk Promotion Act to promote the sale of fluid milk and to allow collective, producer financed, generic fluid milk advertising.The act stated that “fluid milk products are basic foods and are a primary source of required nutrients such as calcium, and otherwise are a valuable part of the human diet,” and mandated that “fluid milk products must be readily available and marketed efficiently to ensure that the people of the United States receive adequate nourishment.”
Fluid Milk Promotion Act of 1990   104KB

USDA Food Pyramid

USDA Food Pyramid, 1992

“The Food Guide Pyramid was introduced in 1992 to illustrate a food guide developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help healthy Americans use the Dietary Guidelines to choose foods for a healthy diet.The Food Guide Pyramid is a graphic tool that conveys �at a glance� important dietary guidance concepts of variety, proportion, and moderation. These concepts are not new�with varying emphasis, they have been part of USDA food guides for almost 100 years.”

The 1992 Food Pyramid recommended that 2-3 servings of milk and other dairy products be consumed daily.
United States Department of Agriculture 

Using The Food Guide Pyramid: A Resource for Nutrition Educators    985KB


“Got Milk?” Advertising Campaign Launched

Back Street Boys
“Got Milk?,” 1998

In 1993 the California Milk Processor Board was formed to increase milk consumption. Their first major public success was the creation of the “Got Milk?” advertisement campaign.In 1995, the “Got Milk?” slogan was registered as a federal trademark by the National Dairy Boards and the “Got Milk?” campaign went national.

“Awareness of GOT MILK? is over 90% nationally and it is considered one of the most important and successful campaigns in history�The Dairy industry spends $150-million annually to support GOT MILK?, including use on those Milk Mustache ads. In addition, the ‘brand’ has become a hot property with over 100 product licensees.”
MilkPEP  “About the CMPB,” www.gotmilk.com (accessed Oct. 16, 2007)

Nov. 5, 1993

Artificial Bovine Growth Hormone Approved by FDA

On November 5, 1993, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved genetically engineered Artificial Bovine Growth Hormone (rBST, rBGH, BGH) for commercial use in the United States.“In March 1993, before rbST was approved, an FDA advisory committee concluded that the use of rbST — and any increased risk of mastitis and resulting increased use of antibiotics in treated cattle — would not pose a risk to human health.

Monsanto Co.’s Posilac, the only rbST product approved for increasing milk production in dairy cattle, was first marketed in February 1994.”
Food and Drug Administration  “BST Update: First Year Experience Reports,” Mar. 14, 1995


Artificial Bovine Growth Hormone protests ensue

“Got BGH?”

In response to the FDA approval of Artificial Bovine Growth Hormone (rBST, rBGH, BGH) the Pure Food Campaign launched a series of protests around the country where milk was spilled in symbolic protest.Jeremy Rifkin, an organizer of the Pure Food Campaign, stated that there was widespread public concern over the safety of rBST and that “We believe this product is a hazard to health.”
New York Times  “Grocers Challenge Use Of New Drug For Milk Output,” Feb. 4, 1994


FDA Issues rBST Labeling Guidelines

In 1994, the FDA issued labeling guidelines for milk (and dairy products made with milk) produced by cows that have not been treated with rBST. In its guidelines the FDA stated: “Because of the presence of natural bST in milk, no milk is ‘bST-free,’ and a ‘bST-free’ labeling statement would be false.”The FDA advised that the following statement should be included on all products labled as being made with milk from cows that are not treated with rBST: “No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows.”
Interim Guidance on the Voluntary Labeling of Milk and Milk Products From Cows That Have Not Been Treated With Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin   18KB

Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI) Formed

“Dairy producer board members of the National Dairy Board (NDB) and the United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA) create Dairy Management Inc.� (DMI) as the organization responsible for increasing demand for U.S.-produced dairy products on behalf of America�s dairy producers; direct coordination between national and local dairy promotion programs begins.DMI forms the U.S. Dairy Export Council� (USDEC) to leverage investments of dairy processors, exporters, dairy producers, and industry suppliers to enhance the U.S. dairy industry�s ability to serve international markets. Both dairy checkoff dollars [funds collected from farmers for collective generic advertisements] and USDEC membership dues fund the organization.”
Dairy Management Inc.  “History of Dairy Promotion,” www.dairycheckoff.com (accessed Oct. 16, 2007)

“Got Milk?” Barbie

“In 1996, CMPB [California Milk Processors Board] and Mattel came out with a limited edition ‘got milk?’ Barbie doll to remind young consumers to drink their milk…‘[The]partnership with Mattel is the perfect example of the power of ‘got milk?’ to attract and leverage great brands to sell more milk,’ says Jeff Manning, executive director of the CMPB.”
Dairy Field “Delivering ‘Got Milk?’ Message to Kids,” May 1998

“Got Milk?” Barbie

Harvard Study on Milk and Bone Health released

In 1997, a group of Harvard School of Public Health doctors published a study in The American Journal of Public Health titled “Milk, Dietary Calcium, and Bone Fractures in Women: A 12-Year Prospective Study.”The study investigated whether higher intakes of milk and other high calcium foods during adulthood could reduce the risk of osteoporosis and related bone fractures.

The study found that high intakes of milk (two or more glasses a day over a 12-year period) did not reduce the incidence of osteoporosis and related bone fractures.
“Milk, Dietary Calcium, and Bone Fractures in Women: A 12-Year Prospective Study”   1.49MB


National Raw Milk Campaign Initiated

In 1998 the Weston A. Price Foundation initiated the “Real Milk Campaign” to promote the health benefits of raw cow’s milk and to advocate for the legalization of raw milk sales.The goal of the Real Milk Campaign is to make”[r]aw milk available to consumers in all 50 states and throughout the world!”

As of 2007, the sale of raw cow’s milk for human consumption is illegal in 17 states.
Weston A. Price Foundation “Real Milk,” www.westonaprice.org (accessed Oct. 22, 2007)

Dec. 2001

Merger of Dean Foods Suiza Foods

In December 2001, Suiza Foods Corporation acquired Dean Foods Company and formed the “new” Dean Foods Corporation. The new Dean Foods Corporation became the nation’s largest dairy processor and distributor with over 25,000 employees and $10 billion in revenues.
Dean Foods Company “A Brief History of the New Dean Foods Company,” www.deanfoods.com (accessed Oct. 22, 2007)
Dec. 2002

PETA Files Suit Against California Milk Board

“Happy Cows”
From CMAB commercial

Factory farm Cows
Photo by PETA

In December 2002, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a lawsuit against the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB).PETA’s lawsuit claimed that the CMAB’s “Happy Cows” advertising campaign constituted false advertising. They charged that the idyllic living conditions of the “Happy Cows” were in stark contrast to the large factory farm reality of most dairy cows in California.

The suit was thrown out by the California Superior Court in 2002. PETA appealed the decision to the California Supreme Court which refused to review the case in 2005.
PETA “PETA Sues the California Milk Board for False Advertising,” www.unhappycows.com (accessed Oct. 17, 2007)

Jan. 5, 2004

Dean Foods Aquires Horizon Organic

On January 5, 2004, Dean Foods, the nations largest dairy processor and distributor, acquired Horizon Organic, the nations leading organic milk and dairy product processor.
Dean Foods Company “A Brief History of the New Dean Foods Company,” www.deanfoods.com (accessed Oct. 22, 2007)

Milk and Weight Loss Ad Campaign Initiated

“3-A-Day” Logo

In 2004, Dairy Managament Inc. and the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board initiated a nationwide advertising campaign with the slogan “3-A-Day. Burn More Fat, Lose Weight.”The advertising campaign ran television, print, and web-ads claiming that the consumption of 3 servings of milk or other dairy products each day could help with weight loss.
USDA Report to Congress on the National Dairy Promotion and Research Program and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Program, USDA/Economic Research Service   7.99MB


Organic Milk’s Popularity Continues to Grow

In 2005, organic milk grew in popularity with a 23% increase in consumption over 2004.During this same time period, overall milk consumption dropped by 8 percent.
New York Times  “An Organic Cash Cow,” Nov. 9, 2005 

USDA Dietary Guidelines Released

In 2005 the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services released an updated “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” that recommended Americans should:“Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products.”
2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans   3.94MB
Oct. 2005

Physicians Group Files Lawsuit Demanding Lactose Intolerance Warnings on Milk

In October 2005 the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) flied a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all residents of Washington D.C. against a number of large milk companies demanding lactose intolerance warnings on milk.PCRM filed the lawsuit “To help raise public awareness about lactose intolerance…on behalf of all residents in Washington, D.C., who may purchase milk without realizing the serious digestive distress it can cause. Filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on October 6, the suit calls for all milk cartons sold in D.C. to carry labels warning of milk�s possible side effects.”

As of Oct. 31, 2007, the case is still pending.
PCRM  “PCRM Files Class-Action Lawsuit Against Dairy Industry,” www.pcrm.org (accessed Oct. 17, 2007) 


“Bilk” Created

“Bilk” and it’s creator
Chitoshi Nakahara

For many years, milk consumption in Japan had been on the decline, creating a surplus milk problem in Japan. The Japanese Island of Hokkaido alone had to dispose of nearly 900 tons of surplus milk in a single month.Sensing an opportunity, Hokkaido liquor store owner Chitoshi Nakahara decided to see if he could ferment this excess milk into beer.

The experiement worked and Mr. Nakahara began selling “Bilk” in local liquor stores in 2007.
Reuters  “Got Milk? Got Beer!,” Feb. 13, 2007


Milk Weight-Loss Claims Withdrawn

In response to a 2005 complaint from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine(PCRM), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a letter regarding The National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board (and others) advertisements that claimed drinking milk helps with weight-loss.The letter stated that the FTC had been “advised by USDA staff that the Dairy Board, the Fluid Milk Board, and other affiliated entities that engage in advertising and promotional activities on behalf of the two boards, have determined that the best course of action at this time is to discontinue all advertising and other marketing activities involving weight loss claims until further research provides stronger, more conclusive evidence of an association between dairy consumption and weight loss…”

A lawsuit (still in appeals as of Oct. 31, 2007) was also filed by the PCRM against a number of milk retail companies, including Kraft Foods and General Mills, to prevent them from making milk weight-loss claims.
PCRM Complaint   220KB

FTC Response   220KB
PCRM Lawsuit   157KB

Aug. 1, 2007

Kroger Supermarkets Phase Out rBST

“The Kroger Co. announced today [Aug. 1, 2007] it will complete the transition of milk it processes and sells in its stores to a certified rBST-free supply by February 2008.The Company said its decision was based on customer feedback in the markets it serves.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kroger is one of the nation’s largest retail grocery chains…At the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2007, the Company operated (either directly or through its subsidiaries) 2,458 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states…”
CNN  “Kroger to Complete Transition to Certified rBST-Free Milk by Early 2008,” Aug. 1, 2007

Apr. 16, 2007

Nation’s Largest Organic Dairy Violates Organic Rules

On April 16, 2007, Aurora Organic Dairy, the largest organic milk producer in the country, and supplier of organic milk to Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Safeway and many other large stores, received a notice of proposed revocation from the USDA for willful violations of the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act.The revocation letter from the USDA described 14 violations committed by Aurora Organic Dairy and stated: “Due to the nature and extent of these violations, the NOP proposes to revoke Aurora Organic Dairy’s production and handling certifications under the NOP.”

According to the Cornucopia institute, a farm policy research group, the practices of Aurora are “a ‘horrible aberration’ and that the vast majority of all organic dairy products are produced with high integrity.”
USDA Notice of Proposed Revocation   309KB
Cornucopia Institute  “Lawsuits Announced Against Nation’s Biggest Organic Dairy,” www.cornucopia.org (accessed Oct. 23, 2007)