Have a dairy-related question? We have some answers.

We have compiled a list of some of the questions we get asked most often

and provided science-based answers and resources. Have a look…

Dairy Dictionary

Does drinking milk cause acne?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there is not consistent evidence that specific dietary factors cause acne. Acne is the most common skin disorder in the United States, affecting 70-87% of all adolescents. It is an issue with many factors, including genetics – specifically race and heredity – environment, exposure to environmental pollutants, psychological stress etc. A well-balanced diet remains important for overall health.

Does consuming dairy foods (specifically milk) lead to earlier puberty in girls?

Over the past three decades, health professionals have recognized that girls are undergoing puberty at younger ages. While the exact reasons for this trend remain unclear, it is unlikely that milk is the culprit. Many people have raised concerns that the natural hormones found in milk may be a contributing factor; however if we look at the data, milk consumption in this population has actually decreased over this same time period, and there is no evidence to suggest that the minute hormones naturally found in milk impact human reproductive health. Though more research is needed, several studies have drawn connections between increased weight, increased body fatness, and lack of physical activity with this trend in earlier puberty. A well-balanced diet, including dairy, coupled with physical activity is important for achieving optimal physical health during developing years.

Are there antibiotics in milk? Why is some milk labeled ``antibiotic free?``

In the same way that humans are treated for illness, if a cow is sick, she is removed from the herd, treated with an appropriate course of antibiotics and then reintroduced to the milking rotation once she is healthy. While the animal is being treated with antibiotics, her milk is kept completely separate. Many dairies even have separate milking facilities for sick cows. Milk is one of the most highly regulated foods on the market, and great care is taken at each stage to avoid any contamination. Milk is tested multiple times before it reaches your refrigerator – when it leaves the dairy, upon arriving at the processing plant, and other stages along the way to ensure no antibiotic contamination. If milk is found to be tainted with antibiotic residue from a treated animal, that milk is discarded. Labels are up to the suppliers, brands, and processors. Some choose to add the label, “antibiotic free,” but rest assured that all milk is antibiotic free.

Sick cows on organic farms are not allowed to be treated with antibiotics. Those cows are treated through other methods or taken to a different farm.

FDA Antibiotic Milk Testing - 2014 Findings

FDA Testing Process & Results

Is cow's milk only for baby cows?

No. Cow’s milk is a great source of nutrition for children and adults. Humans eat a variety of animal-produced foods including honey and eggs. Humans are an incredible species. As we have evolved from our early human ancestors, our brain size has increased and our stomach size has decreased with the adoption of agriculture, animal domestication, and cooking, which has allowed our diet to evolve over time. Cows milk is a nutrient-rich addition to the human diet that naturally provides protein, calcium, potassium, and B-vitamins. If you have concerns about the ability to digest milk and lactose intolerance, check out other resources on this page.

I am lactose intolerant, should I avoid dairy?

Lactose intolerance refers to body’s inability to digest lactose, the natural sugar found in milk. Our bodies produce an enzyme called lactase, which is designed to digest milk sugar. It is natural for the amount of lactase in the body to decrease throughout the lifespan; however, many people have developed the ability to maintain lactase production throughout life – an example of the symbiotic relationship we share with our dietary environment. There are many solutions for those who experience lactose intolerance to continue to incorporate nutrient-rich dairy products into their diets.

Quick Tips:

Try it | Sip it |  Stir it |  Slice it |  Spoon it

Click here for a recent paper explaining the unintended consequences of dairy avoidance.

Note that lactose intolerance is different than a milk allergy. A milk allergy refers to an autoimmune reaction to the protein found in milk and can be a much more serious reaction. Consult a physician or registered dietitian for more information.

5 Things to Know

LI Tips - What you need to know

Amount of Lactose in Dairy Foods

lactose levels in dairy foods

Tips for Keeping Dairy in your Diet

LI Tips for inclusion

Is drinking milk and eating dairy really good for my bones?

Bone health is dependent on several nutrients that we get from a well-balanced nutrient-rich diet. Protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins A, C, D, and K are all important for adequate bone formation and proper bone metabolism. Dairy foods naturally contain many of these nutrients (protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium). Added vitamins A & D further enhance bone health. While dairy foods are not the only calcium-containing foods in our diet, they are excellent sources of readily available calcium, meaning that our body can digest and absorb the calcium found in milk quite well.

I read that dairy increases fracture risk, is that true?

Recently, it has been suggested that countries with the highest rates of dairy consumption are also the same countries with the highest fracture risk; however we cannot say that one causes the other. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to fracture risk including weight, other disease patterns, age, genetics, and environmental stressors. The bulk of the scientific research specifically examining the relationship between dairy and bone health shows a positive correlation. Aiming for 3 servings of dairy per day delivers a variety of important bone building nutrients that are also good for general health.

Does too much protein negatively impact bone health?

Adequate protein intake is essential for proper bone formation. As we age, bone health naturally deteriorates (we only build bone for the first 3 decades of life), and our protein needs also increase with age. Eating adequate amounts of protein throughout life is important for maintaining muscle mass and protecting bone health. It has been suggested that too much protein upsets the pH balance of the body and increases calcium loss; however, recent science shows that any increase in calcium loss as a result of high protein intake is likely the result of increased calcium absorption. When we eat more protein, we absorb more calcium, so the net loss is the same. We do however need balance. Eating excessive amounts of protein can be detrimental because it means that we are eating protein at the expense of other nutrient rich foods. As always, a balanced diet is key. Wondering what your ideal daily protein intake is? For optimizing bone health, a range of intake between 0.4 and 0.8g/lb is ideal (notice there a range of acceptable intake).

So what is the right amount of protein?

Example: 160lb person would need between 64 – 128g of protein per day.

Skim Milk (1c) 8g
3 Slices Turkey 15g
Whole Grain Bread (2 slices) 10g
Mozzarella Cheese (1oz) 7g
Mozzarella Cheese (1oz) 7g
Grilled Chicken Breast (4oz) 25g
Greek yogurt (1 cup) 15-20g

When it comes to milk, is raw better?

Raw milk refers to milk that has not been pasteurized. Pasteurization is the process by which raw milk is heated to a specified temperature for a very short time to kill potentially harmful pathogens. The milk is then rapidly cooled and bottled. Milk pasteurization began in the late 1800s as a means of extending its shelf life and reducing illness associated with the consumption of raw milk. Raw milk may contain harmful bacteria such as E-coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria monocytogenes. These bacteria can cause life-threatening illness, especially in those with compromised immunity (young children, and the elderly). For this reason, many health organizations including the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the World Health Organization support the consumption of pasteurized milk. Research shows no significant difference in the nutrient profile between pasteurized and raw milk. In many states, the sales and distribution of raw milk is illegal. In Utah, raw milk sales from licensed suppliers is legal.

Why is milk pasteurized and how does it work?

Milk pasteurization became popular at the turn of the 19th century as a way of controlling the spread of disease, specifically TB. By heating milk to a specified temperature for a certain period of time, any potential harmful pathogens are destroyed. In 1924, the US Public Health Service developed a standard for milk pasteurization that has evolved into the “Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance” (PMO), which is still in effect today. In the chart below, we list the most common time-temperature combinations – all designed to kill all potentially harmful human pathogens. For more:

What about High Temperature Pasteurization?

Subjecting milk to higher (ultra) heat treatments eliminates a larger percentage of bacteria and allows for longer shelf life. The process involves heating milk to 138° C (280°F) for 2-4 seconds. If packaged normally, the product is considered ultra pasteurized. It still needs refrigeration but will have a longer shelf life than traditionally pasteurized milk. If packaged aseptically in a sterile container, it is considered ultra-high temperature (UHT) and is shelf stable, which means that it can be stored for an extended period of time at room temperature. This method is common throughout Europe. The nutritional benefits remain the same as the primary nutrients found in milk are heat stable.

Common Milk Pasteurization Time-Temperature

Temperature  Time
63°C (145°F) 30 min
72°C (161°F) 15 sec
89°C (191°F) 1.0 sec
90°C (194°F) 0.5 sec
94°C (201°F) 0.1 sec
96°C (204°F) 0.05 sec
100 (212) 0.01 sec

Source: Raw Milk Consumption – Risks & Benefits J.A. Lucy Ph.D


Do alternatives to dairy have the same nutritional benefit?

The dairy case is full of options. In addition to traditional cow’s milk, people can now choose from a variety of plant-based beverages – almond, hemp, flax, soy, coconut, and rice products. The nutrient profiles of these options differ, however, and many of these plant-based options contain very little protein. Cows milk contains 1g of protein per ounce – 8g in an 8oz serving, while almond and rice beverages contain just 1g of protein per 8oz serving. Cow’s milk is also an excellent source of readily available calcium and potassium as well as essential B-vitamins. This unique nutrition profile and solid nutrition science make cow’s milk a highly-recommended, nutrient-rich component of Americans’ diets, and incorporating cow’s milk can be a great, protein-rich addition to a primarily plant-based diet.

Milk Comparison Chart Web

Are dairy foods GMO?

Milk is not genetically modified (GM). Dairy cows may be fed GM-derived feed; however, there is no evidence to suggest negative health or productivity effects in animals fed GM crops. Under organic farming guidelines, organic dairy farms are not allowed to feed their cows GM crops.

There is lots of uncertainty and questions surrounding GMOs. Here are some answers, resources, and food for thought.
There is lots of uncertainty and questions surrounding GMOs. Here are some answers, resources, and food for thought.


What is A2 milk?

Protein in milk is comprised of 80% casein and 20% whey. In the US, most of our milk comes from cows producing a combination of A1 and A2 beta caseins. Through genetics, you can breed cows to produce only the A2 protein. The theory is that A2 beta caseins cause less inflammation and are more readily digested than milk from cows containing the combination of A1 & A2 protein. While interesting, the A2 milk concept is just a theory. At present there is no sufficient scientific support for the proposed mechanisms and beneficial health effects of A2 milk versus traditional A1-containing milk. There is no reason to suspect that A2 milk differs in any meaningful way from traditional A1-containing milk, as such A2 milk provides the same health benefits that are provided by traditional A1-containing milk.

The proposed mechanism by which A2 milk improves digestion is related to protein digestion and not lactose, so it is unlikely to change the reaction of someone who is truly lactose intolerant.

All milk has been shown to decrease risk for heart disease, diabetes, and blood pressure (all inflammatory conditions)

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