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CINCINNATI - Spurred on by positive customer feedback, The Kroger Co. here said it will be processing and selling only certified rBST-free milk by February 2008.
Earlier this year, Kroger transitioned the milk it sells in the western half of the U.S. to a certified rBST-free supply, including milk it processes and sells in its City Market, Dillons, Fry's, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs, and Smith's divisions, as well as Kroger stores in Louisiana and Texas.
By February 2008, all of the milk the company processes and sells in its stores throughout the Midwest and Southeast will be certified as rBST-free, including Kroger banner units in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
"Our customers' increasing interest in their health and wellness is the basis for our decision," said William Boehm, Kroger's s.v.p./president of manufacturing. "We appreciate the willingness of dairy cooperatives across the country to work with us to make this transition in the next six months."
Recombinant bovine somatotropin ("rBST") is given to cows to help increase milk production. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded there is no difference between milk derived from cows treated with rBST and those that have not been treated. However, for the past 10 years, Kroger has informed its raw milk suppliers that it prefers milk from cows that have not been given rBST, based on consumer preference, the company said.
Recently, a growing number of dairy farmers have started to offer certification that the milk they produce comes from cows not treated with rBST.
As a result of these certification programs and growing customer concern about the presence of rBST in milk, Kroger said it has informed raw milk suppliers that it will only procure raw milk from dairy cows that are certified rBST-free beginning early next year.
Kroger operates 15 dairies and three ice cream plants in the U.S. that produce all varieties of fluid milk and other dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, and novelty treats.