Bovine growth hormone, (also known as bGH), is a synthetic hormone that is injected into dairy cows to speed up growth and increase milk production. Unless a label states ‘organic’ or ‘bGH free’, there may be bGH in your milk.
Is drinking milk with bGH safe? It depends on who you listen to. Studies have shown it is safe for humans to drink milk that contains bGH, and therefore food and drug agencies in many countries approve its use. However, critics believe that bGH is a health risk and that there has not been enough testing to rule it as safe for human consumption.
Many groups think that bGH can lead to a public health problem as well. Cows that are given bGH are prone to certain health problems that require treatment with large doses of antibiotics. These large doses of antibiotics are known to show up in milk, which does not necessarily hurt the person drinking the milk; however, it can lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. When this bacterium is present in a large percentage of the population, epidemics could break out.
There are no mandates to milk producers to label products to tell the consumer that they are purchasing milk with bGH in it. If you are concerned about giving your child milk that contains bGH, about the only thing you can do besides having your own dairy cow, is to purchase milk that is labeled ‘bHG free’.