Illinois-based Nuestro Queso announced today it is now working exclusively with dairy farmers that do not use the growth hormone, recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST).
Nuestro Queso products, including Mexican drinking yogurt and Hispanic, Caribbean and South America cheeses and cream products, are shipped across the US.
rBST, also known as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), is a synthetic growth hormone.
Milk from cows injected with rBST contains higher levels of IGF-1, a growth hormone that has been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, consider dairy products made from milk produced by rBST-treated cows safe for human consumption.
In a statement, Nuestro Queso said its decision to source only rBST-free milk was based on feedback from its Hispanic customers, "who identified hormone-free milk as one of the biggest preferences among their dairy product selection."
“Even though the FDA has found no risk, many people are concerned about the presence of hormones in milk," Arturo Nava, director of marketing, Nuestro Queso, told DairyReporter.
“We feel it is the right decision," he said. “We believe the fresher and more natural the milk is the better it is for our products.”
"Going forward all of our suppliers have provided a guarantee that the milk they supply is rBST-free," he added.
Despite the FDA's stance on rBST, many US manufacturers, retailers and foodservice providers have turned their back on milk produced by cows injected with the growth hormone.
Earlier this year, McDonalds USA announced it would begin sourcing milk for some products from cows not treated with rBST.
Milk for McDonald’s Milk Jug low-fat milk and Milk Jog fat-free chocolate milk - both "popular choices" in Happy Meals - would be sourced from cows not treated with rBST, it said in March.