Milk poured into glass

Milk and Antibiotics: Is Your Milk Safe?

Rigorous testing ensures that there are NO antibiotics in the store-bought milk you drink. 

What are the real facts about milk and antibiotics? If you wonder whether or not there is milk with antibiotics at the grocery store, the answer is no. Stringent mandatory testing ensures that the milk that arrives at your grocery store never contains antibiotics, and that milk is one of the safest foods you can buy.

Does Milk Contain Antibiotics?

Are there antibiotics in milk i buy at the store?

No. There are strict standards in place to ensure the milk you buy at the store is safe. Milk is tested for antibiotics at each stage of the delivery process — from the farm, before it is transported and again at the dairy processing facility. If any of these tests are positive, the milk is discarded – long before it reaches the grocery store. It’s because of these rigorous testing standards that milk is one of the safest food products you can buy.

Dairy Products and Antibiotics

Is milk from sick cows still used?

When cows become ill, farmers and veterinarians may need to use antibiotics in dairy cows — just like people, cows sometimes need medication when they are sick. Farmers carefully watch their cows every day to make sure they stay healthy. But when a dairy cow does get sick and needs antibiotics to get better, it is marked with a leg band — and is not part of the milking herd during treatment. When a sick cow is milked, that milk immediately is discarded — it does not get into the food supply. While a cow may have been ill only a short time, that milk must be withheld for a longer period of time to keep any residue of antibiotics in cow milk out of the supply.

Antibiotics in Cow's Milk

Is it safe to drink milk if there are antibiotics in it?

The FDA tests milk (down to parts per billion) to make sure that there are no detectable antibiotics in any dairy product at the grocery store. And there are financial penalties for farmers if their milk does not pass these tests, and they risk losing their license to sell milk. So all milk found at the grocery store is safe to drink — because of farm practices and testing to keep antibiotics out of the food supply.

Organic Milk and Antibiotics

Does organic milk contain antibiotics?

No. All milk is safe and wholesome, and just like conventional milk, organic milk does not contain antibiotics. Organic standards also require that farmers do not use synthetic fertilizers and most synthetic pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics for their cows. Get the facts about organic milk.

How Organic Milk Travels From Farm to Table without Antibiotics

Organic milk is a simple choice that fits an organic lifestyle because organic standards reflect what you want from your food. They determine how farmers care for their cows and how they choose to farm. The feed and pasture must be organic — genetically modified crops, synthetic fertilizers, and most synthetic pesticides are not allowed — and organic dairy farmers do not use growth hormones or antibiotics in dairy cows. If a cow is sick and needs treatment with antibiotics, she is permanently removed from the organic milking herd.

Buying organic milk means you are buying certified foods that are farmed with methods that integrate cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Thanks to innovative farming methods, both conventional and organic dairy farmers are better stewards of the pasture and key to the farm-to-table movement, responsibly producing milk, cheese and other dairy products while continuously working to develop a more sustainable food system now and for future generations.