Cabot Cheese: Read the labels (not rBGH free after all!)

Oh, say it isn’t so!

My lovely Cabot New York Cheddar.  Sharp.  Lovely.  Tasty.  And apparently, still containing recumbent growth hormones.  Sometimes.
This issue goes on.  And on.  
Back in 2009 I happily wrote that Cabot pledged to stop using the growth hormone in its dairy products. Yay! The post said, the people spoke, and Cabot listened!
Well, turns out things were not so clear, and the state of Vermont figured it out.  Cabot apparently was claiming to be rBGH free, but they were not able to support that claim.  In fact, many of their cheeses still contained the growth hormone, even as public health advocates cheered Cabot’s stated ban on the chemical.

Why? Cabot, owned by Agrimark, accepts milk from several surrounding states. Many of these farms have not committed to removing rBGH from their farms.  Vermont farmers have made the rBGH free commitment– if only all the milk was sourced here!

So the state fined Agrimark for essentially false advertising.  They had to pay a fine and donate lots of cheese to the Vermont Foodbank.  According to VT Digger:

“The settlement requires Agri-Mark to pay $65,000 to the State of Vermont, to donate $75,000 worth of dairy products to local food banks, and to take steps to prevent misrepresentations in the future and accurately inform the public as to the rBST status of its products.”

As a result Cabot is required to list on their website which cheeses are guaranteed rBGH free, and which aren’t. The chart itself is useless, because it says that any of it’s cheese could contain growth hormones.  You have to look at individual packages to find out.

Look on the package, to see if it says, “growth hormone free”.  It is doesn’t say that in the little green box, there is no way to know if the cheese contains it.

Notice the label of “No Artificial Growth Hormone”

The Pepper Jack cheese has no label of “No Artificial Growth Hormone” and therefore could contain it.

I really just want to be able to trust Vermont based Cabot on this one, without having to look each time.  I guess that is too much to ask.  Soon, I’ll need my laptop and several hours to go grocery shopping. I’m thinking of converting to only locally made, organic cheeses for my family, and I am hoping to eat and cook with less of it.

I am disturbed by Cabot’s misleading consumers of because here on Non-Toxic Kids, I encouraged readers to buy Cabot cheeses after they proclaimed in 2009 they would no longer use rBGH.  I also have fed these cheeses to my children for years, and am concerned about the effects of these hormones on their little growing bodies.  Why worry?  rBGH has been linked to increased rates of breast cancer and prostate cancer in this study published in the Lancet.  

The Organic Consumers Association has been out in front of this issue, working to protect people from hormones in milk products.  There has been major progress in this area, such as Dannon and Yoplait going hormone free in their production.  Several countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and the European Union have banned rbGH because of its impacts on human and animal health.

Cabot, how about taking a leadership role on this issue:  refuse to accept milk from farms that continue to use growth hormones.  We all learn from our mistakes– and this would show consumers you take their wishes and safety seriously, so we don’t have to worry which bar of cheese we pick up, as long as it’s Cabot.

6 Responses to Cabot Cheese: Read the labels (not rBGH free after all!)

  1. Yuki Miamotta December 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    Thanks for the info. I’m at the market and I was getting ready to buy Cabot Cheese but did a quick web search to see if it contained growth hormones and I found your site. I put the Cabot back and opted for a cheese that states Growth Hormone Free on its label. Once again thanks.

    • Katy January 3, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

      You are so welcome! Glad it helped and thanks for reading.


  2. Kenton March 12, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    The COSTCO 3 Year Cabbot Cheddar now has the "no rBGH icon". YEA!

  3. Tony November 19, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    Thanks so much for this info. I searched their website but after reading and reading it still looked like a judst an endless dance around words and terms rather than a straight clear answer and I suspected this, which is what led me to this site – Thanks so much 🙂

  4. bo robert atkinson December 8, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    Thanks so much for your verifying this information and posting on the www….

    OK so once again it is time to quit buying Cabot cheese!

  5. Jenken April 8, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    My advice, being on both sides of the conventional and organic part of farming, for more than 20 years, is for people to read your labels, not even all "natural", "organic", or "conventional/traditional" products are safe. There are many things that are hidden from consumers in all of the food industry. Try to target a local food movement instead of singling out one producer….many big companies are guilty. At least state of VT has the balls to say whoa wait we want better food labeling. I will still buy Cabot, as most of the time they are ok. I feel like it is up to the consumer to know their source and read the label, not be lazy and hand fed the info. If you value your family, know where your food comes from, and how it is made. Kids/family are investments the goodness you put in them will make them flourish.

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