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Straus Milk- No vitamin D

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  • suebe Nov 5, 2008 08:01 AM
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Not sure whether to post this here but since Straus is an essentially local product.. We were surprised to learn that Straus milk (thats the one in the glass bottles) is not fortified with vitamin D. a very nice email from their customer service representative confirmed this and explained that they try to remain as pure and unadulterated as possible. I think most people (including me, and I'm a pediatric dietitian) assume that all whole milk contains vitamin D so I think it behooves them to make it a bit more obvious on their labels that their product does not contain this nutrient. Working in a teaching hospital I unfortunately see cases of rickets caused by vitamin D deficieny. Children and adults with special health care needs are esspecially at risk.
Again, their customer service folks have been great and they said they would talk it over with Mr Straus when he returns from Italy.

  1. It's no longer just a matter of rickets. Recent research keeps turning up more and more evidence that Vit D is essential to many areas of prevention and overall health and certainly milk--not just whole but all fluid--is a major source for many folks.

    It's important too to point out that many dairy products, e.g., most yogurts, are not produced from supplemented milk.

    The other major source is sun, but many folks use sunscreen and don't give themselves the 10-15 minutes recommended to absorb D, plus older people many not absorb it as well from the sun.

    1. You may be incorrect.

      The Vitamin D3 content of Straus milk MAY BE EVEN HIGHER than Vitamin D2-fortified milk because Straus cows graze outside.

      UV-exposure produces Vitamin D in cows the same way it is produced in humans. Milk with a higher fat content, like Straus milk, usually has more Vitamin D also, since Vitamin D is bound to fat. Obviously, no need to add Vitamin D when the milk already has it.

      Until you have a chromotographic that says otherwise, I'm betting that the Straus milk has as much if not more Vitamin D than conventional milk. Cows in the sunshine and all.

      2 Replies
      1. re: maria lorraine

        I don't believe that even under optimal conditions cows ever produce the amount of Vitamin D considered necessary for humans, but that milk is fortified because it happens to be a good medium for it and because it is consumed by nearly all growing children in the US. My understanding is that the real cause of Vitamin D deficiency in the US is a lack of fish in the diet.

        1. re: Xiao Yang

          Yes. Fish is a far more important source with many times more D than milk.

          Several analyses of D-fortified milk have determined tha the milk contained much less
          D than the label stated, about 80% of what was stated in one study.

      2. What effect, if any, does the addition of Vitamin D have on the flavor of milk?

        1 Reply
        1. re: pilinut

          Depends on how much is added. It does have a metallic taste, which can affect the flavor of milk without registering as metallic.

        2. Why would a product known for being "close to nature" have to put a warning label on about not using added ingredients that other products of its type use?

          30 Replies
          1. re: oaktowngirl

            It's not a question of them "having to." Conscience should tell them that because people are accustomed to thinking that an important component of their nutritive intake is usually supplied by milk, they are duty bound to let them know that that is not the case with Straus milk products.

            1. re: Xiao Yang

              I continue to be amazed that anyone goes into any food related business given all of the various demands we make.

              All they are doing is not adding anything to milk. They take organic milk, pasteurize it and put it in a bottle. And we manage to find some issue or problem with this.

              1. re: ccbweb

                It's a simple matter for Straus to decide whether to be socially responsible or just worry about their bottom line.

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  I'm saying: I completely reject the notion that they are being socially irresponsible.

                  Again, they bottle organic milk. They add nothing to it. There is no reason that anything other than the normal, required labels which already include nutritional information should be required or expected.

                  To continually create these situations in which a company can not possibly win is just untenable.

                  1. re: ccbweb

                    If knowledge that they are not supplying the nutirents people have come to expect in milk makes their business untenable, creating the impression that they are trying to hide the fact will make it even more so.

                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                      That idea that they're hiding anything is something I find amazing. Their product is appropriately labeled and has nothing added to it.

                      Not all milk has vitamin D added and milk that does is so labeled.

                      1. re: ccbweb

                        I do believe that people who are buying Straus milk are aware of what is and isn't in it and desire it, paying a premium.

                        1. re: wolfe

                          I know for a fact that this is not the case with all people who buy Straus. The OP, a dietitian, also knows this is certain.

                          1. re: Atomica

                            Atomica you are right. I apologize, I was too generous. It reminds me of the words of H.L. Mencken. "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."

                      2. re: Xiao Yang

                        The label accurately states what's in the milk, therefore it's not deceiving nor is it hiding anything. I don't think the nutritional deficiencies of children in the 1940s have any relationship to children today. Futhermore, I would be very surprised if children whose parents serve them organic milk are of a socio-economic class where rickets is going to be an issue.

                        I hear there's an epidemic of tooth decay in parts of the country where the kids drink exclusively bottled water. Maybe bottled water should have a label that says it doesn't have fluoride.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          "I don't think the nutritional deficiencies of children in the 1940s have any relationship to children today."

                          Why not? We are talking about Vitamin D. Do kids of today eat more fish? Certainly, with TV, video games, Computers et. al they stay indoors more and get less sunshine than I did as a kid in the 1940's. Supplemented milk, along with other sources of Vitamin D has proven effective in keeping down the rate of Rickets. If you subtract the Vitamin D supplement in milk from the equation, your kids might be in for a nasty surprise, regardless of your exalted economic status.

                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            And rickets is on the rise again. It's all over the news and mentioned by the OP.

                            1. re: Xiao Yang

                              XY, I grew up on a dairy in the l940's, and we had nothing to do with vitamin D. I'm still not vitamin D conscious - have no idea whether the carton in my fridge contains the D supplement or not. The idea that a dairy should announce that they don't add supplements is like an orange juice carton telling us they don't have added calcium.

                            2. re: Ruth Lafler

                              What Ruth said.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                "Maybe bottled water should have a label that says it doesn't have fluoride."

                                Bingo.

                            3. re: ccbweb

                              I completely agree. It's hardly a secret that they are trying to sell a less processed food. Sometimes the flip side of less-processed food is that it's less-processed! Should the muesli at my coop state that it doesn't have all those random vitamins thrown in? Good grief.

                              We need to pay better attention to what we put in our mouths, anyway. Tons of milk-drinkers in my part of the country are deficient in D anyway from lack of sun.

                            4. re: Xiao Yang

                              Let me see, they use modern, efficient waste management techniques, recyclable glass bottles, provide a hormone free product from pastured cows. Yes, definitely socially irresponsible.

                          2. re: Xiao Yang

                            <<Conscience should tell them that because people are accustomed to thinking that an important component of their nutritive intake is usually supplied by milk, they are duty bound to let them know that that is not the case with Straus milk products.>>

                            Who says Vitamin D is not being supplied? It's just not being added.

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              <<It's a simple matter for Straus to decide whether to be socially responsible or just worry about their bottom line.>>

                              Are you assuming -- perhaps speciously -- that Straus milk does not contain Vitamin D?

                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                We can safely assume it has nowhere near the 400+ IU that we count on from a quart of milk. Cow's milk naturally contains 50-80 IU of Vitamin D per quart. Therefore a supplemented quart normally contains 450 to 480 IU, or 6-9X that of unsupplemented milk.

                                1. re: Xiao Yang

                                  You're comparing apples to oranges.

                                  The naturally occuring D3 -- cholecalciferol, the kind produced by cows being out in the sunshine -- is 3.5 TIMES MORE METABOLICALLY ACTIVE than the Vitamin D that is added to milk -- D2, or ergocalciferol.

                                  Moreover, your stat of 400 D2 International Units (IU) per quart is inaccurate. Yes, milk is supposed to contain 400 IU if it's foritfiied, but it doesn't. Most milk -- 70% of milk in the US -- contains less than 320 IU.*

                                  Your number of 50-80 IU of naturally occuring Vitamin D -- D3 -- was per quart of CONVENTIONAL milk, I'm assuming.

                                  The D3 measurement of milk from grassfed cows, meaning, cows out in the sunshine, would be far higher.

                                  So, let's do the math.

                                  Just to play fair, let's take your upper range value for CONVENTIONAL milk -- 80 IU -- and multiply that by a factor of 3.5 to get an equivalence of units to D2.

                                  The number is 280 IU of D2, or nearly the same per quart. So, it's a wash.

                                  But wait, the actual number of equivalent D2 IU in the Straus milk is probably far higher, since your stat is for conventional milk.

                                  So, I'm betting -- as I said earlier -- that the Straus milk has AS MUCH IF NOT MORE METABOLICALLY ACTIVE Vitamin D as conventional milk.

                                  So, XY, I don't buy what you say.

                                  Maria

                                  ------------------------------------------------------
                                  *Info source: "However, during the past decade, three surveys in which the vitamin D content in milk was analyzed revealed that up to 70 percent of milk sampled throughout the United States and Canada did not contain vitamin D in the range of 8 to 12 µg (320 to 480 IU)/quart (the 20 percent variation allowed by current labeling standards)."
                                  http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?rec...

                                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                                    >We can safely assume it has nowhere near the 400+ IU that we count on from a quart of milk.<

                                    I don't count on that without seeing it on the package. Milk is milk. Making it an added-vitamin product if fine as long as you say so., and not making it an added-vitamin product is by default fine.

                                    1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                      It's medical science, not me, that promotes the supplementation of milk with Vitamin D, and I assume they have good reason.

                                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                                        Not everything our country has promoted, in terms of foods, has been with good reason. I would argue that much of it is w/o good reason, unless you consider agribusinesses making money a good reason.

                                        1. re: chemchef

                                          Maybe an 85 percent reduction in childhood rickets isn't a good reason to fortify milk to you, but it is to me.

                                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                                            But the reason for rise in rickets recently is BREASTFEEDING!!

                                            http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/4...

                                            The increased incidence of rickets -- and it's not a huge increase, just a curious one -- was mainly found in Latino and African-American children under a year of age and almost always under 4 years of age.

                                            Which is rather telling. It means that MOTHER supplementation is as important, if not more important, than milk supplementation in reducing rickets. The mother needs adequate Vitamin D in her diet that she can pass along in her milk.

                                            You were right the first time, XY, with your rec of fish.

                                            Certainly fortified milk can help with both the mother's and the infant's diet. But Vitamin D supplementation -- in milk, orange juice, and pill form -- is not converted efficiently to the 1,25-Vitamin D our body can actually use.

                                            Sunshine is really the most powerful way to get Vitamin D in a form the body
                                            recognizes and can use.

                                            Three times a week in the sunshine is all it takes. 20 minutes per session for light-skinned individuals, 40 minutes or more for darker-skinned individuals.

                                            Children playing outside, a walk at lunch, simple things...

                                            Difficult to access sunshine in some areas, yes.

                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                              Also, there are people in the UK, for example, who live at certain latitudes where the sunlight isn't of the proper quality during the winter months to provide vitamin D.

                                              1. re: Atomica

                                                That happens right in my neck of the woods - Western WA. It seems like there's always another study about our levels of SAD and low D...

                                              2. re: maria lorraine

                                                Obviously, if an infant is breastfeeding, he or she isn't drinking Straus milk, and it becomes a question of what the MOTHER is drinking. In addition, a child's need for Vitamin D doesn't cease when he or she is weaned. The low incidence of rickets in children older than breastfeeding age is possibly due to the fact that nearly all commercial milk products ARE fortified.

                                                1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                  As mentioned earlier, the rise in rickets is a reflection of the mother's diet.

                            2. I would think that dietitians especially would carefully read nutrition and ingredient labels. This has nothing at all to do with Straus and should only serve as a reminder not to assume what is and isn't in something.

                              1. Grassfed milk naturally has a 'natural' amount of vitamin D3. It is now recommended by many to get far more than is in a glass of milk anyhow, 1000 or 2000 IU per day. I recommend cod liver oil or vitamin D3 drops, especially in winter, after getting your levels checked.

                                -Kelly

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: kellycolorado

                                  Please see the following relevant link:

                                  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/...

                                  1. re: Ridge

                                    Unfortunately, neither the article on milk from grassfed cows you link to or the British animal study to which the article refers contain any text about Vitamin D. I read through both and there was not a single reference to Vitamin D -- the subject of this thread. Nothing for either naturally produced D3, or manufactured D2.

                                    The study does look at other nutrients in grassfed milk, though, and that part was interesting.

                                    Maria

                                2. Even milk with the most Vitamin D isn't a good source of the vitamin. You have to drink so much milk to get your RDA that it's not feasible. Fish is the best way. Vegetarians have a tough time -- and D supplementation is dicey too. Good ole sunshine works well, if you live where you can reap it.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                    Yes, there are multiple sources of Vitamin D including sunshine. Nevertheless, according to a UC Riverside scientist, "in the 1940's this milk supplementation process reduced the incidence rate of juvenile rickets by 85% in the United States."

                                    http://is.gd/6KIo

                                  2. I love what I've had from Straus Milk, and the organic line from Clover with it's abnormally long shelf life (and the company is owned by San Francisco's own Benedetti family, of New Pisa fame )..... but Im anticipating a huge comeback for Berkeley Farms.

                                    I believe most of the Vitamin D in milk is just an additive which is why certain cartons list Vitamin D on the front, and some don't. It's not assume. Likewise, not all your orange Juice comes with the daily required dose of Vitamin C.

                                    1. Made a batch of mozzarella today with the Straus milk. it was lovely. I walked for an hour in the rain to get it. So my Vitamin D levels are perilously low. Not.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: oaktowngirl

                                        http://www.westonaprice.org/basicnutr...

                                        very informative article on vitamin D - worth reading for all that are following this thread.

                                        1. re: malta

                                          A number of statements in that article have been disproven -- most pointedly the one on sunshine.

                                          20 minutes of sunshine is a remarkable source of Vitamin D.

                                          We've learned so much in the last few years about the magical way our bodies
                                          use the sun's UV rays to convert the 07-Vitamin D in our skin, an unusable form,
                                          into 25-Vitamin D by the liver, and finally into its usable form by the kidneys -- 1,25-Vitamin D.

                                          Besides the huge error on sunshine in the westonaprice article, most of the Vitamin D info in that article is not current. A lot of the data is from the 1980s; the bulk of it is from the 1990s. That's PREHISTORIC in terms of science studies. There is not a single info source in that article from this century!!

                                          Here's a credible science article from Discover Magazine written earlier this year. It's interesting.
                                          http://discovermagazine.com/2008/jan/...

                                          Please note that the Discover article considers only three sources of Vitamin D to be major: sunshine, fatty fish, and supplements.

                                          Mothers, parents, anyone, can't depend on milk to be their sole or even primary source of Vitamin D.

                                          There has been quite a bit written lately on the inefficacy of taking Vitamin D supplementation, even. Apparently the body doesn't convert the D2 into the usable 1,25-D efficiently.

                                          The requirements of Vitamin D are quite high, and food sources are quite low.
                                          Fish and -- it bears repeating -- sunshine are by far the best sources:

                                          Requirements:
                                          0-1 year 400 IU/day
                                          1-50 years 200 IU/day
                                          51-70 years 400 IU/day
                                          Over 70 years 600+ IU/day

                                          Food Sources:

                                          Milk 1 cup -- 80 Vitamin D IU
                                          Fortified rice/soy beverage 1 cup -- 80 Vitamin D IU
                                          Fortified orange juice 1/2 cup -- 45 Vitamin D IU
                                          Egg yolk 1 -- 25 Vitamin D IU
                                          Herring or trout, cooked 2.6 oz -- 156 Vitamin D IU
                                          Mackerel, cooked 2.6 oz -- 80 Vitamin D IU
                                          Salmon, Atlantic, cooked 2.6 oz -- 225 Vitamin D IU
                                          Salmon, canned or cooked* 2.6 oz -- 608 Vitamin D IU
                                          Sardines, Atlantic, canned 2.6 oz -- 70 Vitamin D IU
                                          Sardines, Pacific, canned 2.6 oz -- 360 Vitamin D IU
                                          Tuna, canned, light or white 2.6 oz -- 41 Vitamin D IU
                                          Tuna, canned, yellowfin (albacore, ahi) 2.6 oz -- 105 Vitamin D IU
                                          Tuna, skipjack, cooked 2.6 oz -- 381 Vitamin D IU
                                          Tuna, bluefin, cooked 2.6 oz -- 690 Vitamin D IU

                                          * includes Chinook, Coho, Humpback (pink), Sockeye

                                          Our elderly population also suffer from an alarming Vitamin D deficiency. It's disheartening to hear that rickets is again on the rise in children, though bone degeneration is its analog in the elderly.

                                          Maria

                                      2. WOW-
                                        feel like I should chime in again since I started this post.. At least clarify my positition. In general I feel like folks need to advocate for themselves- it's not up to the government to police our intake or knowledge.. and I feel foolish as an RD that i didn't realize that vitamin D was an optional fortification- but in fairness neither did any of my colleagues. We were all surprised. So I would guess that most of the public thinks this as well.

                                        But I think my visceral reaction was not that of being an RD but being a mom- this was the milk we were giving to our 22 month old precisely because we want to give him the best.

                                        I respect Straus and made it clear that in my original posting that we are having an open, civil dialogue about this topic.

                                        What harm would it do to include on their label- "this product does not contain added vitamin D"? It's not their job or arguably their obligation- but it would be great customer service and omiting this information causes me to think that they care much more about their bottom line then they want their image to portray.

                                        33 Replies
                                        1. re: suebe

                                          Thanks for coming back and restating your very understandable concerns. One cannot belabor a valid point too much when the practices of a sacred cow (so to speak) like Straus are concerned.

                                          1. re: suebe

                                            << "What harm would it do to include on their label- "this product does not contain added vitamin D"?

                                            That would give the impression that Straus milk does not contain Vitamin D, when it almost
                                            surely contains as much if not a more biologically active form of Vitamin D than the type that is
                                            added.

                                            Maria

                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                              I don't think you'll find any scientific support for that claim. There's nothing magic about Straus' cows that would make them accumulate more Vitamin D in their milk than other cows. And what on earth does "biologically active" mean?

                                              If Straus's milk contains more that 400 IU's of Vitamin D naturally, there's no legal reason why they couldn't state that on their labels.

                                              1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                <<And what on earth does "biologically active" mean?>>

                                                Read the posts above. All Vitamin D is not alike. There are many forms.

                                                Some are far more metabolically active than others. The type of Vitamin D (D3)
                                                produced by the sun is far more potent than the Vitamin D that is added (D2).

                                                Moreover, the human body does not convert D2 as efficiently into the usable form that the body needs -- 1,25-D -- as easily as it converts D3 into the same compound.

                                                So there are two differences in biological activity right there.

                                                A chromatographic analysis of Straus milk or of a comparable organic milk
                                                would give a scientific measurement of natural Vitamin D3 content in the milk.

                                                Checking on those studies now.

                                                Maria

                                                1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                  ML didn't address this one directly, so I'll pile on. You claim that there's "nothing magic about Straus' cows that would make them accumulate more Vitamin D in their milk than other cows."

                                                  You're right. It's not magic, it's biology. The thing that makes Straus's cows accumulate more Vitamin D in their milk is sunlight.

                                                  I don't know if you've ever seen a CAFO dairy, but it's not a pretty sight (and it looks better than it smells). The cows are kept in metal sheds 24/7. Their milk isn't going to have much if any Vitamin D because they're never outside.

                                                  Straus Farms, on the other hand, pastures its cattle. Not only is this better for the cattle, it's better for the consumer because the UV rays react with the cows' subcutaneous fat and makes Vitamin D, which can be found in their milk.

                                                  Maria, I'm looking forward to any data you can find about the comparative amounts of bioavailable Vitamin D in various kinds of milk. Thanks for providing your usual detailed and thoughtful analysis. Hope we don't turn Chowhound into a total busman's holiday for you.

                                                2. re: maria lorraine

                                                  which is why they can use the word "added" not "this product does not contain any vitamin D" And I will look into your assertion that it probably has more vitamin D.. but unfortunately I don't think that is the case..

                                                  1. re: suebe

                                                    <<which is why they can use the word "added" not "this product does not contain any vitamin D" >>

                                                    I'm sorry, I did not understand this.

                                                    All milk contains natural Vitamin D and some milk also contains added Vitamin D.

                                                    Maria

                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                      They do not need to state that they do not have ANY vitamin D in their product but that they do not have ADDED vitamin D..

                                                      They actually don't need to do either but it in my opinion, it would be a customer friendly thing to do.

                                                      1. re: suebe

                                                        I think it'd be great if Straus would be put the full Vitamin D content on the label as well. But, if a company does not add something, they do not have to declare that they don't add it, as you say.

                                                        An analogy would be Orange Juice. OJ does not have to state that it contains No Added Vitamin C.

                                                        Of course, additional Vitamin C may be added to OJ, increasing the mg per serving. And, as you well know, D2 is often added to OJ.

                                                        I'm surprised that as a dietician you did not know that fortifying milk was optional, as is flouridating water.

                                                        Maria

                                                        1. re: maria lorraine

                                                          I made the same comparison with the C. I have a hunch putting the vitamin content is required, while stating they're not adding extra vitamins just because it's become the industry standard sounds counterproductive. A label that states no additives should be enough, especially for a dietition....but I think there is a bigger issue here where organic stripped down products are just that - stripped down. Remember some of the most fortified juice on the shelves is also some of the most processed.

                                                        2. re: suebe

                                                          I agree--if the label doesn't say it is added, I am not going to assume it's added. That would just be weird to say it isn't added! And I think the people that are assuming that consumers assume D is added are wrong. I had a conversation with my husband recently where we were wondering whatever happened to Vitamin D milk. We used to see that label when we were kids but we never see anything called Vitamin D milk anymore, so we don't assume D is added anymore.

                                                          And we've learned this year, with all the media coverage about Vitamin D, that even D enriched milk has very little.

                                                          1. re: christy319

                                                            You don't assume that Viatmin D is added to your milk, but it most certainly is if you are drinking any other milk product than Straus.

                                                            The point really is not whether consumers assume Vitamin D is added or not, the point is that most consumers don't even think about it, but assume a normal family eating a mormal diet in today's times have nothing to fear from "heirloom" scourges like rickets. Straus may be the only commercial dairy in the US not fortifying their milk, so people who use Straus exclusively are subtracting a source of Vitamin D from their normal regime that is available to all other milk drinkers. You may think the deficiency is trivial, but where children are concerned, why not err on the side of caution? As noted above, the supplementation of milk with Vitamin D alone reduced the incidence of childhood rickets in the 1940's by 85 percent, according to a U.C. Riverside Health Scientist. A label on Straus milk would simply inform them that because Straus does not believe in supplementing their milk with Vitamin D, its consumers should be aware that they are not getting the amount of Vitamin D in their diet that they normally would expect, and this shortfall could lead to health consequences.

                                                            1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                              Do we have any information to suggest that Straus is the only commercial dairy in the US not fortifying their milk with vitamin D?

                                                              1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                Do we really know enough about this? Common sense and farming food services do not always go hand in hand. For all we know, the Vitamin D additives allow for loopholes in which our dairy contains other additives we're not even privy to. Is there a way to measure the quality of D additives? As it is, we have no method for rating the supposedly pure vitamins we buy on store shelves in pill form. Is there regulation there? Doubt many of us are qualified to say.

                                                                There are a number of other small batch artisanal brands on the East Coast with similar commercial distribution. I would doubt Straus is alone.

                                                    2. re: suebe

                                                      Where would you have a line drawn for labeling? What are the things that should be labeled when they are added or should be labeled when they are not added? How do we determine such a thing?

                                                      My objection has nothing to do with Straus. I don't care particularly about one company in this sense. My objection is that "because I thought it did" isn't a good reason to require a label on a product that doesn't have X added to it.

                                                      Setting up a company that is doing absolutely nothing wrong for a complaint that "they care more about their bottom line" is unfair. All that happened so far is you made a bad assumption. That many people apparently make a similar bad assumption doesn't make it different than that. This shouldn't create an obligation on someone else (whether that be a person or a company).

                                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                                        These are all great points and I appreciate yours and everyones input. Yes, I guess I, and all of my colleagues need more continuing education about fortification and labeling laws. I am certainly doing more reading about this now.
                                                        On a practical basis, my thought, which I still stand by, is that if a bunch of RD's assumed their milk was fortified then the general public probably is making the same assumption. You don't think that is the case and that is where we disagree- fine- but my 9-5 job is working with consumers around nutrition education so I have a good handle about general beliefs.
                                                        I appreciate the analagy with vitamin C and orange juice but it's a poor one for a few reasons. Vitamin C deficiency is not the public health issue that Vitamin D deficiency is (I have yet to see a case of scurvy but have seen lots of children w/vitamin D deficiency-infants and older) Orange juice is not routinely fortified and therefore a label stating that it isn't wouldn't make any sense. Orange juice has a fairly constant level of vitamin C while the amount of (unfortifed) vitamin D would vary widely in milk depending on production.
                                                        And as I keep saying- Straus is not a bad company. I like most of their products and most of their company policies. They are not obligated to put anything on their labels but it would be good customer service. And since they don't, I feel obliged to let people know that this is the case so that they cna make informed decisions for themselves and their families.

                                                        1. re: suebe

                                                          Here is my $.02on this issue. First, I am by no means an expert on Milk or Vitamin D, but I a work in an agricultural related field. My impression is that these days cows are raised to maximize yield of milk and meat. To do this they are fed things that cows don’t normally eat like corn and other junk. The result is that the cows grow faster and yield more milk and meat and the farmers make more of a profit. But the resulting meat and milk are not as nutritious. That’s why I personally only eat grass fed beef and milk from grass fed cows. Studies show that It’s higher in beneficial fatty acids and other nutrients. I haven’t been able to find any studies on the vitamin D content of milk from grass fed cows kept outdoors but I would guess that it’s much higher than standard milk thus eliminating the need for Vitamin D supplementation. Stauss is putting out a highly nutritious product that likely does not need fortification with extra vitamin D. Don’t knock them for it.

                                                          1. re: Ridge

                                                            Yes, it seems like that would be the case... but I haven't found any scientific evidence confirming that- (or disproving that) Of note, even the publicity materials put out by farmers of grass fed beef do not list that as an advantage- yes- vitamin A, E, omega 3 and conjungted linoleic acid- but no mention at all of vitamin D. I would guess that it just varies according to production, time of year etc which is why fortification is recommended.
                                                            I agree with Xiau Yang on this one- if we're talking about growing children why not err on the side of caution?

                                                            1. re: suebe

                                                              Shouldn't we then err on the side of caution about a great many things that have to do with food and growing children?

                                                              We should label products "do not feed this to your child as it can only contribute to obesity" and the like. Honestly, I'm not sure I'd have a problem with something like that. But as a single call for action, this one seems out of place.

                                                              1. re: ccbweb

                                                                oh I agree with you here that it is a slippery-slope. But I think that most parents know that chips and sodas may contribute to obesity, but very few realize that some milk may not be fortified with vitamin D. Yes, I'm making a lot of assumptions.. but they are based on my job, which is working w/families around nutrition education.

                                                                In a few postings above you asked if there was proof that it was the only dairy not supplementing with vitamin D? Don't know.. but its the only one I've found in the bay area.. maybe there's another in the northeast? So because its the exception and most peoples perseption is that milk is fortified.. my "call for action" is simply a statement on their label stating that they choose not to fortify.

                                                                1. re: suebe

                                                                  The milk from many dairies is not fortified with Vitamin D. There are many scientific studies that have measured the Vitamin D -- the sunshine-D3 -- in the milk of grassfed/pastured cows, and my guess is that this amount is comparable to that of Straus milk, hence my position all along.

                                                                  You can access the studies by researching calciferol, or cholecalciferol, or D3, and pastured milk, organic milk, et cetera. Again, sunshine-D3 is far more powerful than the Vitamin D that is added, so you cannot compare ng/l and consider it equivalent.

                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                    The cows themselves may be less prone to rickets- which is a good thing. But haven't found the aforementioned studies that their milk is rich enough in vitamin D that it meets our DRI's. But please send me a reference.

                                                                    1. re: suebe

                                                                      What studies have you read, Suebe?

                                                                      You can unearth many studies that have measured the D3 (calciferol), 07-D, and 25-D of non-fortified milk by doing a search through the dairy and ag journals, which I have done.

                                                                      Milk -- fortified and non-fortified -- often contains several forms of Vitamin D.

                                                                      I also searched the National Library of Medicine database, and have read about 20 studies since this thread has begun.

                                                                      I'd think you'd be very interested in digging out the research.

                                                                      Your nutrition journals may also have specific studies on Vitamin D in milk. I did not check those -- instead focused on the ag/dairy journals and med/science pub database.

                                                                      Of special interest might be the difference between the types of Vitamin D, and the degree to which each form is converted to the body's only usuable form of the Vitamin -- 1,25-D.

                                                                      The precursor to 1,25-D is 25-D, and a low blood serum measurement of 25-D -- as you know, Suebe -- is one of the diagnostic tests for nutritional rickets.

                                                                      You'll find ample reference to all this in the research.

                                                                      Maria

                                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                        Thanks Maria Lorraine. I'm trying to quickly up my own evidence based knowledge base. Don't have access to the Ag Journals unfortunately. As to what I'm reading- just finished: Vitamin D fortification in the United States and Canada: current status and data needs. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2004;80:1710s-6s which basically says that even with our fortification practices, hypovitaminosis D is prevalent in vulerable populations. Now one could interpret that as "then why bother fortifying at all?" while I see it as "Why invite possible risks when there are measures to do do otherwise" I've also been reading somewhat interesting theories/possible mechanisms of vitamin D deficiency and autism risk- I don't think there are great studies to prove or disprove this but its a theory born from other research which finds higher autism rates in rainy climates during especially rainy seasons. In general here are a lot of un-scientific theories around autism and nutrition so of course I'm reading w/a bit/lot of skeptism.. but its interesting. Okay, now I'm waaay off topic. Thanks again for your input. SB

                                                                        1. re: suebe

                                                                          Since few people are supporting you, I'll just say that as a parent of a teenage boy who is practically a vampire, I'd like to know whether or not the milk I buy for him is fortified with D. The issue never occurred to me. Thanks for bringing it up.

                                                                          1. re: suebe

                                                                            The Ag and Dairy Journals are searchable online by anyone with access to a computer.

                                                                            You can search for a list a list of ag and dairy journals using Google. Or, you can begin by searching for the terms in my above post and adding the words "dairy" and "journal."

                                                                            You may be highly encouraged once you read the studies.

                                                                            Low levels of Vitamin D have many causes -- lack of ingestion, lack of absorption by the intestine (fairly common), and lack of conversion to a usable form.

                                                                            Lack of ingestion, of course, is the topic of this thread.

                                                        2. re: suebe

                                                          Maybe the label could just read "this bottle contains nothing but pure milk from pastured cattle, with no additives or preservatives."

                                                          Once you start naming things that aren't included, where do you stop? Straus would have to start using bigger bottles so there'd be enough surface area to print all the things that aren't added: "This product contains no added Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, iron, selenium, nickel, copper, iodine, green olives, herring, dill pickles, chicken stock, all-purpose flour, cayenne pepper, mushrooms, garlic, salami, mustard, cherries, pumpkin, peanut butter..."

                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                            I like your idea.. and recognize and appreciate a good tongue-and-cheek

                                                            but our point is that just about all milk is now supplemented w/vitamin D (but not salami or pumpkin) and therefore the exceptions should let it be known.

                                                            1. re: suebe

                                                              Greetings from Straus! I'm the VP of Sales & Marketing at Straus. I heard about a rousing debate regarding our milk and Vitamin D and, after reading all of the messages above, thought I should comment.

                                                              As many of you have pointed out, we prefer not to "add" anything to our products if at all possible. The Vitamin D issue is a bit complicated, however, given the wide use of fortified Vitamin D in the milk industry. Naturally-occurring Vitamin D3 is certainly more beneficial than D2. I'm honestly not sure why, in the past, we at Straus haven't tested our milk for D3. After the recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics on the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D, I chose to send our milk out for analysis. The results should be in later this week. When the results do arrive I will post another comment on this thread with the level of naturally-occurring Vitamin D3 contained in our milk. I also plan to include this measure on our labels in the future.

                                                              I appreciate all of your passionate blog posts on this topic. The health of our children could not be more important to me personally (I have 3) and to Straus as a company. We strive to be as transparent a company as possible, in our farming practices and in the products we make. I look forward to exploring this Vitamin D issue to completion and sharing our findings with all of our customers.

                                                              1. re: Goorganic

                                                                What a great response. I look forward to seeing the results.

                                                                Most consumers don't know how to compare any measure of sunshine-D3 to the Vitamin D (D2) that's used to fortify milk, since the two are not equal.

                                                                So, if you could, provide also provide that comparison. That would be helpful to those who read your label. That last scientific article I checked said D3 was 5 times more powerful than D2, but I've also seen 3-4 times more powerful in the scientific text.

                                                                Maria

                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                  I agree, this was the perfect response, and adding the vitamin table to the bottle is more then sufficient. The comparison chart sounds like asking for the cow with the milk, while crowding some classy packaging.

                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                    I wasn't thinking a chart at all. (Don't know how you got that.) Or even a table. By comparison I meant equivalent. Just a phrase saying the D3 was equivalent to this many IUs of Vitamin D2. Could be as simple as "Contains the equivalent of 400 IU of Vitamin D2."

                                                                2. re: Goorganic

                                                                  Great. Look forward to your reply since despite all of M.L.'s google hints and my generally adequate research skills, have been unable to find a reference with concrete ranges of D3 in grass-fed vs conventionally fed cows.
                                                                  Much thanks to your company. I hope to be proven wrong about this (that the D3 level IS adequate) as I miss lugging home my big glass Straus bottles and mixing up the cream for my little one.

                                                          2. Folks, this thread has devolved into sniping back and forth amongst a few posters, so we're going to lock it.

                                                            Goorganic, when your results are available, please email us at moderators@chowhound.com and we'll reopen the thread so the conversation can continue.