Dean Foods and HP Hood have recently notified New England milk suppliers that at some facilities they will no longer accept milk from cows treated with synthetic growth hormones.
For Dean Foods, the nation's largest milk processor, this is a new and somewhat surprising move. Dean Foods' White Wave Division does own Horizon Organic, the leading organic milk brand in the country, but otherwise, Dean does not have a no-rBST milk. Hood, on the other hand, is the owner of Booth Bros., a Vermont-based brand it acquired in 1997 that has marketed an rBST-free milk since the synthetic hormone was approved for use in the U.S. in 1993.
Hood now plans to exclude milk from rBST-treated cows at several of its other New England plants and to use the "Farmer's Pledge" statement on labels of other Hood brands.
Reports did not indicate if Dean-which is a major competitor to Hood in New England-will make a label statement.
Meanwhile, one of the largest independent dairies in New England, Oakhurst, of Portland, Maine, accused its bigger competitors of jumping on the bandwagon. Oakhurst has also had a no-rBST policy since the drug was approved. Three years ago it settled a lawsuit brought by rBST manufacturer Monsanto, agreeing to change the wording of its label claim.