Should you be worried about hormones in milk?

Article 4 min

Do you wonder about the hormones in the foods you eat? We get it. Making sure the milk you enjoy is safe, real, and simple is what we’re all about. We spoke to Canadian dairy farmers to get the whole story about what’s in – and what’s not in – the milk they produce.

By DFC - PLC, Communications Team


  • Canadian milk is fortified with Vitamin D (and sometimes Vitamin A)
  • There are no artificial hormones in Canadian dairy products

Canadian dairy farmers, they’re just like us! 

Like many Canadians, our farmers want to enjoy foods that are simple and delicious. What it comes down to is a simple philosophy: Canadian dairy farmers seek to produce a milk that’s uncomplicated and as close to the land as possible. Luckily, our climate is well-suited to producing the nutrient-filled forage that dairy cows need to thrive. “We’re able to grow high quality forage crops which means our milk doesn’t need a million additives,” says Olivier, a Quebec  dairy farmer. And that’s just the beginning. 

Full disclosure: Canadian milk is fortified with vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin – (and vitamin A in the case of skim and partly-skimmed milk) in accordance to Health Canada regulations. These regulations were put in place because many Canadians were getting insufficient amounts of these vitamins. Adding these to milk was a simple way public health officials could ensure more Canadians would get their daily recommended amount.   

Éveline, a Quebec dairy farmer
Éveline , a Quebec dairy farmer, puts it simply: “The milk we produce is the milk we drink. I’m the last person who’d want artificial growth hormones or antibiotics in my milk. It’s the milk I drink and it’s what I serve my children too.”

Did you know that all food contains hormones? Seriously.

Natural hormones are found in every multicellular organism on Earth. The human body alone can naturally produce about 50 different types of hormones. Hormones are like chemical messengers that help cells communicate. Because everything we eat is derived from plants or animals (yes, plants have hormones too!), all the real foods we eat contain natural hormones.

However, there are also synthetic (or artificial) hormones, which are man-made hormones that can be similar in structure to natural ones. They’re commonly used in modern medicine, but what does this have to do with food or milk? Let’s get to that. 

Richard, a Canadian farmer in his barn
“I’m so proud to produce milk that’s high in quality and that Canadian families get to enjoy,” says Richard , a dairy farmer from Quebec.

What are rbST and rBGH? (And the real reason Canadian farmers don’t use artificial growth hormones.)

In the 1990s, certain countries, namely the United States,    approved the commercial use of an artificial bovine growth hormone called rbST or rBGH.   It’s a man-made version of the growth hormone normally found in cows that stimulates milk production. However, it was never approved in Canada. 

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“On Canadian dairy farms, we use all natural [practices]. Usually, we try to make better quality feeds to increase the milk production, not mess around with hormones or anything else.”
Jacob, dairy farmer from Manitoba

Health Canada chose not to allow rbST in Canada because it posed a risk to animal welfare. Simply put, it’s never been approved or available for use in Canada, not back then and not today. “A farmer  can’t use [artificial growth hormones] in Canada and I think that’s a good thing for the Canadian dairy industry,” says Éveline . 

When you ask a Canadian dairy farmer about artificial growth hormones, you tend to get one of two answers. The first being that it’s illegal and just not something they’re familiar with. The other is utter surprise and shock. “I have a hard time understanding that any Canadian would think we use artificial growth hormones on our cows,” says Olivier . “It’s just so far removed from our way of thinking. I wouldn’t offer milk that I wouldn’t drink myself .” 

It’s our farmers’ pride in providing a quality product and dedication to their work that makes Canadian milk so special.

Canadian milk, from our families to yours

Our dairy farmers seek to produce milk that’s real, simple, and made without the use of artificial growth hormones (it’s also tested for antibiotic residue in case you were wondering!). This covers Canadian milk you drink as well as dairy products made from the milk our farmers produce. To make sure you’re buying Canadian milk and dairy products, just look for the blue cow logo. “This  milk for your family is from our family farm. We produce milk in accordance to extremely strict regulations and we’re proud of that. We’re so proud to feed Canadian families,” says Richard.