A Buyer's Guide to Milk

Help for consumers in the dairy aisle.

With its balanced mix of carbs and protein and rich supply of calcium and other bone-strengthening nutrients, (cow’s) milk certainly does a body good. But with so many choices on grocers’ shelves, how do you know which one you should buy? EatingWell helps you cut through the confusion with this guide.

RBST-free or not?

The claim “rbST-free” indicates milk produced without using the artificial growth hormone recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rbST. Giving this hormone to a cow boosts its milk production by about five quarts per day. Some consumers believe that treating cows with the supplemental hormone is inhumane, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that treating cows with rbST does not harm the animals—or significantly affect the hormone content of milk. In fact, all milks—even from cows not treated with rbST—contain hormones. Note: All organic milks are rbST-free, but not all rbST-free milks are organic (i.e., farmers may use pesticides, fertilizers, etc.).

Some people swear milk tastes better in pretty glass bottles, but it’s best stored in opaque containers to help prevent milk’s riboflavin—an extremely light-sensitive B vitamin—from breaking down.

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