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SEATTLE - Natural and organic foods retailer PCC Natural Markets yesterday banned all dairy products containing rBGH, the artificial growth hormone widely used to increase the milk production of dairy cows, and removed all products from its shelves that contain trans fats that are linked to several health issues.
All liquid milk, yogurt, sour cream, butter, cheese, ice cream, and kefir sold by PCC are free of the growth stimulant, and put all its vendors on notice that even popular products found to contain added trans-fats will not be carried in PCC stores.
"Many of our shoppers view the pursuit of greater profits by dairy producers using rBGH as blatant disregard for potential long-term health concerns for both humans and dairy cows," said Paul Schmidt, PCC's director of merchandising. "We don't allow artificial preservatives, colorings, or flavorings in our product line, and we don't offer dairy products produced using an artificial hormone. Milk production is inexpensive and abundant in our country, and there are safer alternatives to injecting dairy cows with rBGH."
Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), also known as rbST (recombinant bovine somatotropin) is a genetically-engineered pharmaceutical marketed by the Monsanto Co. under the brand name Posilac. It mimics the function of a naturally occurring hormone that regulates milk production in cows. Cows injected by rBGH typically produce an average of 10 percent or more milk, and an estimated one-third of dairy cows in the U.S. are given rBGH.
The artificial hormone was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in late 1993, and ever since has come under fire by some physicians, nutritionists, and consumer groups who believe it to be a growing health risk, as well as a serious threat to the economic survival of small dairy farmers.
PPC said a contributing factor in the decision to remove products containing artificial trans-fats was research from the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academies of Science, which concluded that trans-fats in hydrogenated margarine and shortening - used widely in processed snacks and desserts - are associated directly with heart disease.
The Institute also found that there is no safe amount of trans-fats in the diet. Since January 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required food manufacturers to list the amount of trans-fats on nutrition labels.
PCC Natural Markets is a certified organic retail cooperative with annual sales of $105 million and an active membership of nearly 40,000 households. It operates eight stores in the Seward Park, View Ridge, Greenlake, West Seattle, Fremont, Kirkland, Redmond, and Issaquah neighborhoods.