Last updated on: 9/25/2019 | Author: ProCon.org

Historical Timeline

History of Cow's Milk from the Ancient World to the Present

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8000 BC-63 BC

8000 BC - Origins of the Domestic Cow

Artist rendition of an Auroch.
Source: WOLDS Historical Organization, "Wymeswold's Ghosts," hoap.co.uk (accessed July 10, 2013)

Aurochs, the wild ancestors of modern cows, once ranged over large areas of Asia, Europe and North Africa.

Aurochs were first domesticated 8,000 to 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent area of the Near East and evolved into two types of domestic cattle, the humped Zebu (Bos indicus) and the humpless European Highland cattle (Bos taurus).

Some scientists believe that domesticated cattle from the Fertile Crescent spread throughout Eurasia, while others believe that a separate domestication event took place in the area of India and Pakistan.

Straus Family Creamery   "History of the Cow," www.strausfamilycreamery.com (accessed Oct. 23, 2007)

4000 BC - Early Evidence of Milking Cattle in Neolithic Britian

Ancient neolithic cooking pots.
Source: Discovery Channel, "Early Brits Were Original Cheeseheads," dsc.discovery.com, Oct. 10, 2006

Through analyzing degraded fats on unearthed potshards, scientists have discovered that Neolithic farmers in Britain and Northern Europe may have been among the first to begin milking cattle for human consumption. The dairying activities of these European farmers may have begun as early as 6,000 years ago. According to scientists, the ability to digest milk was slowly gained some time between 5000-4000 B.C.E. by the spread of a genetic mutation called lactase persistance that allowed post-weaned humans to continue to digest milk. If that date is correct, it may pre-date the rise of other major dairying civilizations in the Near East, India, and North Africa.

Discovery Channel    "Early Brits Were Original Cheeseheads," dsc.discovery.com, Oct. 10, 2006

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)    "Early Man 'Couldn't Stomach Milk'," www.bbc.co.uk (accessed Oct. 30, 2007)

3000 BC - Evidence of Dairy Cows Playing a Major Role in Ancient Sumerian Civilization

Image of a stone carving at the ancient Sumerian temple of Ninhursag showing typical dairy activities.
Source: Dorling Kindersley, The Visual Dictionary of Ancient Civilizations, Nov. 1, 1994

Although there is evidence of cattle domestication in Mesopotamia as early as 8000 B.C.E., the milking of dairy cows did not become a major part of Sumerian civilization until approximately 3000 B.C.E.

Archaelogical evidence shows that the Ancient Sumerians drank cow's milk and also made cow's milk into cheeses and butters.

The picture to the left is of a carved dairy scene found in the temple of Ninhursag in the Sumerian city of Tell al-Ubaid. The scene, which shows typical dairy activities such as milking, straining and making butter, dates to the first half of the third millennium B.C.E.

Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat, PhD     Daily Life In Ancient Mesopotamia, 2002

3100 BC - The Domesticated Cow Appears in Ancient Egyptian Civilization

Aancient Egyptian stone carving of milking a cow.
Source: Tour Egypt, "The Diet (Food) of the Ancient Egyptians," touregypt.net (accessed July 11, 2013)

At least as early as 3100 B.C.E., the domesticated cow had been introduced to, or had been separately domesticated in, Northern Africa.

In Ancient Egypt, the domesticated cow played a major role in Egyptian agriculture and spirituality.

Attesting to its central role in Egyptian life, the cow was deified. The Egyptians "held the cow sacred and dedicated her to Isis, goddess of agriculture; but more than that, the cow was a goddess in her own right, named Hathor, who guarded the fertility of the land."

Ron Schmid, ND     The Untold Story of Milk, 2003

2000 BC - The Domesticated Cow Appears in Northern Indian Vedic Civilization

Image of the sacred cow from the Bahagavad-Gita.
Source: Sri Acharyaji, "Sama Darshana: The Nature of True Equality in Sanatana Dharma," dharmacentral.com, July 8, 2010

By 2000 B.C.E, the domesticated cow had appeared in Northern India, coinciding with the arrival of the Aryan nomads.

The Vedic civilization that ruled Northern India from about 1750 BCE to about 500 BCE relied heavily upon the cow and the dairy products that it provided.

The heavy dependence on the cow was reinforced by the Vedas (the religious epics of the Hindu religion) wherein the cow was considered a sacred animal.

Reay Tannahill, MA   Food in History, 1973

1700-63 BC - Milk in Ancient Hebrew Civilization and the Bible

"The ancient Hebrews... held milk in high favor; the earliest Hebrew scriptures contain abundant evidence of the widespread use of milk from very early times. The Old Testament refers to a 'land which floweth with milk and honey' some twenty times. The phrase describes Palestine as a land of extraordinary fertility, providing all the comforts and necessities of life. In all, the Bible contains some fifty references to milk and milk products."

Ron Schmid, ND     The Untold Story of Milk, 2003

1525-1776

1525 - The First Cattle Brought to the Americas Arrive at Vera Cruz, Mexico

"The first cattle to arrive in the New World landed in Vera Cruz, Mexico, in 1525. Soon afterword, some made their way across the Rio Grande to proliferate in the wild. They became known as 'Texas Cattle.' Soon after, some of the [Spanish] settlers transported cattle to South America from the Canary Islands and Europe. More followed, and cattle multiplied rapidly throughout New Spain, numbering in the thousands within a few years."

Ron Schmid, ND     The Untold Story of Milk, 2003

1624 - The First Cattle Brought to New England Arrive at Plymouth Colony

The first cows were brought to Plymouth colony in 1624.

"The cattle present in 1627 in Plymouth included black, red, white-backed and white-bellied varieties. The black cattle may have been of a breed or similar to those today called Kerrys. Kerry cattle are descended from ancient Celtic cattle and were originally native to County Kerry Ireland."

Craig S. Chatier, MA   "Livestock in Plymouth Colony," Plymouth Archaeological Rediscovery Project website (accessed Oct. 9, 2007)

1679-1776 - Milk and the Spanish California Missions

"The Jesuit Priest, Eusebio Kino, introduced cattle to Baja California in 1679 as part of the missionary effort to establish mission settlements... Milk became a blessing to missionaries in time of need."

During a food shortage in 1772, Junipero Serra stated that "...milk from the cows and some vegetables from the garden have been [our] chief subsistence."

In 1776, at the Mission San Gabriel, Father Font wrote that "The cows are very fat and they give much and rich milk, which they [Native American women at the mission] make cheese and very good butter."

Robert L. Santos   "Dairying in California through 1910," Southern California Quarterly, Summer 1994

1800-1899

Early 1800s - Milk Maids and the Compulsory Smallpox Vaccine in the United States

Drawing of a man being vaccinated for smallpox, by Sol Ettinge.
Source: United States National Library of Medicine, "Smallpox A Great and Terrible Scourge," nlm.nih.gov, Oct. 18, 2002

In the 18th century it was common folk knowledge in Europe that milk maids (women who milked cows) seemed to be immune from the smallpox plagues when they swept through Europe.

In 1796, English physician Edward Jenner developed a vaccine for smallpox based upon this folk knowledge.

"Recognizing that dairymaids infected with cowpox were immune to small-pox, Jenner deliberately infected James Phipps, an eight year old boy, with cowpox in 1796. He then exposed Phipps to smallpox-which Phipps failed to contract. After repeating the experiment on other children, including his own son, Jenner concluded that vaccination provided immunity to smallpox."

In the United States, compulsory smallpox vaccination was introduced on a state by state basis, beginning in the early 1800s.

National Library of Medicine   "Smallpox A Great and Terrible Scourge," nlm.nih.gov, Oct. 18, 2002

1840-1920s - Milk Production and Distillery Dairies in the United States

Image of the Gooderham & Worts Distillery/Dairy from the 1850s.
Source: Raw Milk Facts, "Distellery Dairies, Deadly Milk," raw-milk-facts.com, June 21, 2012

In the early 19th century, the alcohol distillery business in the United States began to grow. Large amounts of swill (spent-grains) were produced as a byproduct of whisky and other alcohol production. Many distilleries opened dairies and began feeding their dairy cows with the waste swill. The low nutritional content of the swill lead to sickness in the cows and in the humans who drank their milk.

"Confined to filthy, manure-filled pens, the unfortunate cows gave a pale, bluish milk so poor in quality, it couldn't even be used for making butter or cheese."

Raw-milk-facts.com   "Distellery Dairies, Deadly Milk," raw-milk-facts.com, June 21, 2012

1822-1895 - The Process of Pasteurization is Developed by Louis Pasteur

Image of Louis Pasteur.
Source: "Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)," bbc.co.uk (accessed July 11, 2013)

French chemist and biologist Louis Pasteur, considered one of the fathers of microbiology, helped prove that infectious diseases and food-borne illnesses were caused by germs, known as the "germ theory."

Pasteur's research demonstrated that harmful microbes in milk and wine caused sickness, and he invented a process - now called "pasteurization" - whereby the liquids were rapidly heated and cooled to kill most of the organisms.

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)    "Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)," bbc.co.uk (accessed July 11, 2013)

Mar. 23, 1883 - The New York Milk War

Image of a New York City milk seller during the 1883 "milk war."
Source: New York Times, "On This Day: March 31, 1883," nytimes.com (accessed July 11, 2013)

In 1883 a struggle known as the "milk war" broke out between milk farmers/producers and milk distribution companies in New-York.

Milk farmers demanded a higher price for their milk. When the distribution companies refused to pay more the farmers organized "spilling committees" that blocked roads, seized shipments and dumped out their own milk instead of selling it to the distributors.

These "spilling committees" created a "milk famine" in New York City in an effort to force the milk distribution companies to pay the farmers higher prices for their milk.

"In late March, 1883, a temporary settlement was reached between committees of the striking dairy farmers and the milk retailers, the latter representing about 800 of their fellow businessmen. They agreed to set the price of milk at 2½-4¢ a quart, depending on the season. Disputes between milk producers and dealers would resurface at times over the years, the most notable of which were the milk strikes of the early 1930s during the Great Depression."

New York Times    "On This Day: March 31, 1883," nytimes.com (accessed July 11, 2013)

1884 - First Glass Milk Bottles Patented

"One of the first glass milk bottles was patented in 1884 by Dr. Henry Thatcher, after seeing a milkman making deliveries from an open bucket into which a child's filthy rag doll had accidentally fallen. By 1889, his Thatcher's Common Sense Milk Jar had become an industry standard. It was sealed with a waxed paper disc that was pressed into a groove inside the bottle's neck. The milk bottle, and the regular morning arrival of the milkman, remained a part of American life until the 1950s, when waxed paper cartons of milk began appearing in markets."

How Products Are Made   "Milk," www.madehow.com (accessed Oct. 22, 2007)

1893 - Dr. Henry L. Coit Forms the Medical Milk Commission to Certify Raw Milk

Dr. Henry L. Coit's "Baby Keep Well" clinic in 1906.
Source: Raw Milk Facts, "A Brief History of Raw Milk," raw-milk.facts.com (accessed July 11, 2013)

In the mid-to-late 1800s milk-born illness was a major problem.

Milk produced at unhygienic production facilities (like distillery dairies) served as a medium to spread diseases like typhoid and tuberculosis. These diseases created a public health crisis that led to skyrocketing infant mortality in the cities.

As a result, "[i]n 1889, two years before the death of his son from contaminated milk, Newark, New Jersey doctor Henry Coit, MD urged the creation of a Medical Milk Commission to oversee or 'certify' production of milk for cleanliness, finally getting one formed in 1893."

Raw-milk-facts.com   "A Brief History of Raw Milk," raw-milk.facts.com (accessed July 11, 2013)

1895 - Commercial Pasteurization of Milk Begins

In 1895, commercial pasteurizing machines for milk were introduced in the United States.

International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA)   "Important Dates in Milk History," www.idfa.org (accessed Oct. 8, 2007)

1899 - Milk Homogenizer Is Patented

"In 1899 Auguste Gaulin obtained a patent on his homogenizer. The patent consisted of a 3 piston pump in which product was forced through one or more hair like tubes under pressure."

Homogenization breaks down the large fat globules in milk into tiny ones.

The process prevents the cream from separating and rising to the top as it does in un-homogenized milk.

Dairy Heritage   "History," www.dairyheritage.com (accessed Oct. 8, 2007)

1900-1949

1913 - Typhoid Epidemic in New York City

The New York Times reported that a large typhoid epidemic in New York City was attributed to contaminated milk.

New York Times    "Bad Milk Causes Typhoid," Sep. 19, 1913

1914 - The First Milk Tanker Trucks Are Introduced

1928 Oshkosh Milk Tanker Truck.
Source: John's Old Car and Truck Pictures, "The OSHKOSH," oldcarandtruckpictures.com (accessed July 11, 2013)

The first tank trucks for transporting milk were put into service.

International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA)   "Important Dates in Milk History," www.idfa.org (accessed Oct. 8, 2007)

1917 - Mandatory Pasteurization of Milk Begins

"By 1917, pasteurization of all milk except that from cows proven to be free of tuberculosis was either required or officially encouraged in 46 of the country's 52 largest cities. The proportion of milk pasteurized in these cities ranged from 10 percent to 97 percent; in most it was well over 50 percent."

Ron Schmid, ND     The Untold Story of Milk, 2003

1922 - Capper-Volstead Act Passed

Congress passed the Capper-Volstead Act, allowing producers of agricultural products, such as milk, to "act together in associations" to organize collective processing, preparation for market, handling, and marketing of milk and other agricultural goods.

The act was of historic significance as it granted producers of milk and other agricultural products special exemptions from monopoly laws to help farmers raise the price for their products.

Capper-Volstead Act (11KB) , Feb. 18, 1922

1933 - Sioux City Milk War

In 1933 milk producers in Iowa organize a strike for higher milk prices.

One of the main tactics farmers used during the strike was to block roads and prevent milk from being shipped to Sioux City.

In one instance, strikers opened fire on a truck driver who was trying to get past a road blockade they had set up, seriously injuring four of the passengers.

New York Times    "4 Shot in Milk War on Sioux City Road," Feb. 4, 1933

1937 - First Milk Marketing Orders Initiated

"Milk marketing orders came into existence as a result of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937... The rationale for the legislation was to reduce disorderly marketing conditions, improve price stability in fluid milk markets, and ensure a sufficient quantity of pure and wholesome milk.

The orders are regulations approved by dairy farmers in individual fluid milk markets that require manufacturers to pay minimum monthly prices for milk purchases."

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW)   "Milk Marketing Order Reform: Watered Down or Real?," Jan. 20, 1998

Aug. 28, 1939 - Dairy Farmers Union Strike

Archie Wright, DFU organizer.
Source: Thomas J. Kriger, "The 1939 Dairy Farmers Union Milk Strike in Heuvelton and Canton, New York," albany.edu (accessed July 16, 2013)

Dairy Farmers Union symbol.
Dairy Farmers Union symbol. Source: Thomas J. Kriger, "The 1939 Dairy Farmers Union Milk Strike in Heuvelton and Canton, New York," albany.edu (accessed July 15, 2013)
Dairy farmers in the countryside outside New York City were hit hard by the Great Depression. Milk prices in New York City fell so low that the milk distributors were paying farmers less for their milk than it cost them to produce it. As things got desperate, dairy farmers organized the Dairy Farmers Union (DFU). Led by Archie Wright, a former organizer for the radical Industrial Workers of the World, the DFU went on strike in 1939. During the strike, DFU members blocked roads and halted market-bound trucks. They confiscated milk and spilled it out on the roadsides. In some cases they threw bottles of kerosene on trucks that did not stop. The picketers fought non-strikers who tried to cross their lines, and State troopers who intervened.

TIME Magazine    "Milk Without Honey," time.com, Aug. 28, 1939

June 4, 1940 - First Federal Milk Program for Schools

"Federal assistance in providing milk for school children has been in operation since June 4, 1940, when a federally subsidized program was begun in Chicago. It was limited to 15 elementary schools with a total enrollment of 13,256 children. The schools selected were located in low-income areas of the city. The price to the children was 1 cent per one-half pint, and children who could not pay were given milk free, the cost being paid through donations by interested persons."

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)   "The National School Lunch Program Background and Development," usda.gov (accessed Oct. 17, 2007)

1940s - Federally Subsidized Milk Advertising under the Works Progress Administration

Milk advertisement from the WPA art program, 1940.
Source: Library of Congress, "Milk - For Health, Good Teeth, Vitality, Endurance, Strong bones," loc.gov, July 20, 1940

Milk advertisement from the WPA art program, 1940.
Source: Library of Congress, "Milk - For Summer Thirst," loc.gov, Oct. 14, 1940
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was formed on May 6, 1935, as a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal plan to bring the United States out of the Great Depression. The WPA differed from other New Deal programs in that it focused on providing work for artists, educators, writers and musicians.

The two posters pictured here were painted by artists under commission from the WPA. Like many WPA projects, these paintings served a dual purpose: to employ artists and to create increased demand for milk. As such, these paintings (and many others like them) were a form of federally subsidized dairy advertising.

At its height, the WPA employed over 3 million people.

Margaret Bing   "A Brief Overview of the WPA," www.broward.org (accessed Oct. 16, 2007)

1946 - National School Lunch Act Passed

In 1946, President Harry Truman signed the National School Lunch Act into law. The act was designed to provide nutritious lunches to the nation's children. The reasoning behind the act was laid out in its text: "It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress, as a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation's children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities and other food, by assisting the States, through grants-in aid and other means, in providing an adequate supply of food and other facilities for the establishment, maintenance, operation and expansion of nonprofit school lunch programs."

The Secretary of Agriculture prescribed three types of lunches which would be acceptable under the act, designed as Type A, Type B, and Type C.

It was mandated that each lunch include between 1/2 to 2 pints of whole milk.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)   "The National School Lunch Program Background and Development," www.usda.com (accessed Oct. 17, 2007)

1950-1999

1950s-1960s - Square Milk Carton Introduced

Vintage paper milk cartons.
Source: Doug and Lindas Dairy Antique Site, "Wax Milk Containers," dairyantiques.com (accessed July 15, 2013)

In the 1950s and 1960s many dairies began to introduce the square paper carton to replace bottles.

The square shape allowed more milk to be carried and displayed in a given space than did the old glass bottles.

The new cartons also reduced the cost of milk for consumers since disposable paper cartons were cheaper than glass bottles.

Doug & Lindas Dairy Antique Site   "Wax Milk Containers," dairyantiques.com (accessed Oct. 10, 2007)

Oct. 11, 1966 - Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the Special Milk Program

The Child Nutrition Act of 1966, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, authorized the Special Milk Program (SMP).

"The SMP provides milk free of charge or at a low cost to children in schools and child care institutions that do not participate in other Federal child nutrition meal service programs. The federally assisted program reimburses schools for the milk they serve."

School Nutrition Association   "Program History & Data," www.schoolnutrition.org (accessed Oct. 17, 2007)

1974 - Nutrition Labeling of Fluid Milk Begins

Voluntary nutrition labeling on fluid milk products was initiated after the FDA advised that all foods should have nutrition labels.

International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA)   "Important Dates in Milk History," www.idfa.org (accessed Oct. 8, 2007)

1983 - Dairy Act of 1983 and the Creation of the National Dairy Board

"The Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983 (Dairy Act) authorized a national producer program for dairy product promotion, research, and nutrition education to increase human consumption of milk and dairy products and reduce milk surpluses. This self-help program is funded by a mandatory 15-cent-per-hundredweight assessment on all milk produced in the contiguous 48 States and marketed commercially by dairy farmers. It is administered by the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board (Dairy Board). The Dairy Act provides that dairy farmers can direct up to 10 cents per hundredweight of the assessment for contributions to qualified regional, State, or local dairy product promotion, research, or nutrition education programs."

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)   "National Dairy Promotion & Research Program: Overview, Structure, and History," usda.gov (accessed Oct. 16, 2007)

1990 - Fluid Milk Promotion Act

In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the Fluid Milk Promotion Act to promote the sale of milk and to allow collective, producer financed, generic milk advertising. The act stated that "fluid milk products are basic foods and are a primary source of required nutrients such as calcium, and otherwise are a valuable part of the human diet," and mandated that "fluid milk products must be readily available and marketed efficiently to ensure that the people of the United States receive adequate nourishment."

1992 - First USDA Food Pyramid Is Released

1992 USDA Food Pyramid.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Library, "Past Food Pyramid Materials," usda.gov (accessed July 15, 2013)

"The Food Guide Pyramid was introduced in 1992 to illustrate a food guide developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help healthy Americans use the Dietary Guidelines to choose foods for a healthy diet.

The Food Guide Pyramid is a graphic tool that conveys 'at a glance' important dietary guidance concepts of variety, proportion, and moderation. These concepts are not new—with varying emphasis, they have been part of USDA food guides for almost 100 years."

The 1992 Food Pyramid recommended that 2-3 servings of milk and other dairy products be consumed daily.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)   "Using The Food Guide Pyramid: A Resource for Nutrition Educators," usda.gov, 1992

1993 - "Got Milk?" Advertising Campaign Launched

Back Street Boys "Got Milk?" advertisement, 1998.
Source: Vintage Ad Browser, "Got Milk Ads of the 1990s," vintagebrowser.com (accessed July 15, 2013)

In 1993, the California Milk Processor Board was formed to increase milk consumption. Their first major public success was the creation of the "Got Milk?" advertisement campaign.

In 1995, the "Got Milk?" slogan was registered as a federal trademark by the National Dairy Boards and the "Got Milk?" campaign went national.

"Awareness of GOT MILK? is over 90% nationally and it is considered one of the most important and successful campaigns in history… The Dairy industry spends $150-million annually to support GOT MILK?, including use on those Milk Mustache ads. In addition, the 'brand' has become a hot property with over 100 product licensees."

Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP)   "About the CMPB," www.gotmilk.com (accessed Oct. 16, 2007)

Nov. 5, 1993 - Artificial Bovine Growth Hormone Approved by FDA

On November 5, 1993, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved genetically engineered Artificial Bovine Growth Hormone (rBST, rBGH, BGH) for commercial use in the United States.

"In March 1993, before rbST was approved, an FDA advisory committee concluded that the use of rbST -- and any increased risk of mastitis and resulting increased use of antibiotics in treated cattle -- would not pose a risk to human health.

Monsanto Co.'s Posilac, the only rbST product approved for increasing milk production in dairy cattle, was first marketed in February 1994."

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)   "BST Update: First Year Experience Reports," fda.gov, Mar. 14, 1995

1994 - Protests against Artificial Bovine Growth Hormone Ensue

"Got BGH" graphic.
Source: Helloari.com, "Got BGH?," helloari.com (accessed July 15, 2013)

In response to the FDA approval of Artificial Bovine Growth Hormone (rBST, rBGH, BGH), the Pure Food Campaign launched a series of protests around the country where milk was spilled in symbolic protest.

Jeremy Rifkin, an organizer of the Pure Food Campaign, stated that there was widespread public concern over the safety of rBST and that "We believe this product is a hazard to health."

New York Times    "Grocers Challenge Use of New Drug for Milk Output," nytimes.com, Feb. 4, 1994

1994 - FDA Issues rBST Labeling Guidelines

In 1994, the FDA issued labeling guidelines for milk (and dairy products made with milk) produced by cows that have not been treated with rBST. In its guidelines the FDA stated: "Because of the presence of natural bST in milk, no milk is 'bST-free,' and a 'bST-free' labeling statement would be false."

The FDA advised that the following statement should be included on all products labeled as being made with milk from cows that are not treated with rBST: "No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows."

Food and Drug Administration Interim Guidance on the Voluntary Labeling of Milk and Milk Products From Cows That Have Not Been Treated with Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (18KB) , fda.gov, Feb. 10, 1994

1995 - Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI) Formed

"Dairy producer board members of the National Dairy Board (NDB) and the United Dairy Industry Association (UDIA) create Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI) as the organization responsible for increasing demand for U.S.-produced dairy products on behalf of America’s dairy producers; direct coordination between national and local dairy promotion programs begins.

DMI forms the U.S. Dairy Export Council® (USDEC) to leverage investments of dairy processors, exporters, dairy producers, and industry suppliers to enhance the U.S. dairy industry’s ability to serve international markets. Both dairy checkoff dollars [funds collected from farmers for collective generic advertisements] and USDEC membership dues fund the organization."

Dairy Management Inc.   "History of Dairy Promotion," www.dairycheckoff.com (accessed Oct. 16, 2007)

1995 - "Got Milk?" Barbie Released

Source: National Museum of Play Online Collections, "Got Milk? Barbie," thestrong.org (accessed July 16, 2013)

"CMPB [California Milk Processors Board] and Mattel came out with a limited edition 'got milk?' Barbie doll to remind young consumers to drink their milk...

'[The] partnership with Mattel is the perfect example of the power of 'got milk?' to attract and leverage great brands to sell more milk,' says Jeff Manning, executive director of the CMPB."

Dairy Field (Now Dairy Foods)   "Delivering 'Got Milk?' Message to Kids," May 1998

1997 - Harvard Study on Milk and Bone Health Released

Harvard School of Public Health doctors published a study in the American Journal of Public Health titled "Milk, Dietary Calcium, and Bone Fractures in Women: A 12-Year Prospective Study."

The study investigated whether higher intakes of milk and other high calcium foods during adulthood could reduce the risk of osteoporosis and related bone fractures.

The study found that high intakes of milk (two or more glasses a day over a 12-year period) did not reduce the incidence of osteoporosis and related bone fractures.

Diane Feskanich, ScD     "Milk, Dietary Calcium, and Bone Fractures in Women: A 12-Year Prospective Study," American Journal of Public Health, June 1997

1998 - National Raw Milk Campaign Initiated

In 1998, the Weston A. Price Foundation initiated the "Real Milk Campaign" to promote the health benefits of raw cow's milk and to advocate for the legalization of raw milk sales.

The goal of the Real Milk Campaign is to make"[r]aw milk available to consumers in all 50 states and throughout the world!"

In 2007, the sale of raw cow's milk for human consumption was illegal in 17 states.

Weston A. Price Foundation   "Real Milk," westonaprice.org (accessed Oct. 22, 2007)

2000-present

Dec. 2001 - Merger Forms Largest US Dairy Producer

In December 2001, Suiza Foods Corporation acquired Dean Foods Company and formed the "new" Dean Foods Corporation. The new Dean Foods Corporation became the nation's largest dairy processor and distributor with more than 25,000 employees and $10 billion in revenues.

Dean Foods   "A Brief History of the New Dean Foods Company," www.deanfoods.com (accessed Oct. 22, 2007)

Dec. 2002 - PETA Files False Advertising Lawsuit against the California Milk Board

Image from CMAB "Happy Cows" commercial.
Source: PETA, "PETA Sues the California Milk Board for False Advertising," www.unhappycows.com (accessed Oct. 17, 2007)

Factory farm cows in California.
Factory farm cows in California.
Source: PETA, "PETA Sues the California Milk Board for False Advertising," unhappycows.com
(accessed Oct. 17, 2007)
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a December 2002 lawsuit against the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB).

PETA's lawsuit claimed that the CMAB's "Happy Cows" advertising campaign constituted false advertising. They charged that the idyllic living conditions of the "Happy Cows" were in stark contrast to the large factory farm reality of most dairy cows in California.

The suit was thrown out by the California Superior Court in 2002. PETA appealed the decision to the California Supreme Court, which refused to review the case in 2005.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)   "PETA Sues the California Milk Board for False Advertising," www.unhappycows.com (accessed Oct. 17, 2007)

Jan. 5, 2004 - Dean Foods Acquires Horizon Organic

On January 5, 2004, Dean Foods, the nation's largest dairy processor and distributor, acquired Horizon Organic, the nation's leading organic milk and dairy product processor.

Dean Foods   "A Brief History of the New Dean Foods Company," www.deanfoods.com (accessed Oct. 22, 2007)

2004 - Milk and Weight Loss Ad Campaign Initiated

"3-A-Day" logo.
Source: Umpqua Dairy, "Educational Tools," umpqua.com (accessed July 16, 2013)

In 2004, Dairy Management Inc. and the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board initiated a nationwide advertising campaign with the slogan "3-A-Day. Burn More Fat, Lose Weight."

The advertising campaign ran television, print and internet advertising claiming that the consumption of 3 servings of milk or other dairy products each day could help with weight loss.

United States Department of Agriculture USDA Report to Congress on the National Dairy Promotion and Research Program and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Program, USDA/Economic Research Service" (8MB) , July 1, 2005

2005 - Organic Milk's Popularity Continues to Grow

In 2005, organic milk grew in popularity with a 23 percent increase in consumption over 2004. During this same time period, overall milk consumption dropped by 8 percent.

New York Times    "An Organic Cash Cow," Nov. 9, 2005

2005 - USDA Dietary Guidelines Released

In 2005, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services released an updated "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" that recommended Americans should:

"Consume 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products."

United States Department of Agriculture " 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans" (3.9MB) , 2005

Oct. 2005 - Physicians Group Files Lawsuit Demanding Lactose Intolerance Warnings on Milk

In October 2005, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all residents of Washington, DC, against a number of large milk companies demanding lactose intolerance warnings on milk.

PCRM filed the lawsuit "To help raise public awareness about lactose intolerance... on behalf of all residents in Washington, D.C., who may purchase milk without realizing the serious digestive distress it can cause. Filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on October 6, the suit calls for all milk cartons sold in D.C. to carry labels warning of milk’s possible side effects."

As of Oct. 31, 2007, the case is still pending.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)   "PCRM Files Class-Action Lawsuit Against Dairy Industry," pcrm.org (accessed Oct. 17, 2007)

2007 - Japanese Man Creates Beer from Milk

"Bilk" and it's creator Chitoshi Nakahara.
Source: Japan Probe, "Milk + Beer = Bilk," japanprobe.com (accessed July 16, 2013)

For many years, milk consumption in Japan had been on the decline, creating a surplus milk problem in Japan. The Japanese island of Hokkaido alone had to dispose of nearly 900 tons of surplus milk in a single month.

Sensing an opportunity, Hokkaido liquor store owner Chitoshi Nakahara decided to see if he could ferment this excess milk into beer.

The experiment worked, and Nakahara began selling "Bilk" in local liquor stores in 2007.

Reuters    "Got Milk? Got Beer!," reuters.com, Feb. 13, 2007

2007 - Milk and Weight-Loss Claims Withdrawn

In response to a 2005 complaint from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine(PCRM), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a letter regarding The National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board (and others) advertisements that claimed drinking milk helps with weight-loss. The letter stated that the FTC had been "advised by USDA staff that the Dairy Board, the Fluid Milk Board, and other affiliated entities that engage in advertising and promotional activities on behalf of the two boards, have determined that the best course of action at this time is to discontinue all advertising and other marketing activities involving weight loss claims until further research provides stronger, more conclusive evidence of an association between dairy consumption and weight loss..." A lawsuit (still in appeals as of Oct. 31, 2007) was also filed by the PCRM against a number of milk retail companies, including Kraft Foods and General Mills, to prevent them from making milk weight-loss claims.

PCRM Complaint (220KB) , Apr. 21, 2005

FTC Response to PCRM (220KB) , May 3, 2007

PCRM Lawsuit (157KB) , 2007

Apr. 16, 2007 - Nation's Largest Organic Dairy Violates Organic Rules

On April 16, 2007, Aurora Organic Dairy, the largest organic milk producer in the country, and supplier of organic milk to Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Safeway and many other large stores, received a notice of proposed revocation from the USDA for willful violations of the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act.

The revocation letter from the USDA described 14 violations committed by Aurora Organic Dairy and stated: "Due to the nature and extent of these violations, the NOP proposes to revoke Aurora Organic Dairy's production and handling certifications under the NOP."

According to the Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy research group, the practices of Aurora are "a 'horrible aberration' and that the vast majority of all organic dairy products are produced with high integrity."

USDA Notice of Proposed Revocation (309KB) , Apr. 16, 2007

Cornucopia Institute Lawsuits Announced Against Nation's Biggest Organic Dairy," www.cornucopia.org (accessed Oct. 23, 2007)

Aug. 21, 2007 - FTC Affirms the Legality of 'rBST Free' Labels on Milk

In Feb. 2007, the Monsanto Corporation (producers of rBST) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that a number of milk processors were engaging in "false and deceptive" advertising by labeling their products as being free of the artificial growth hormone rBST and thereby inferring that milk from cows injected with the growth hormone is inferior.

In its response to the compliant filed by the Monsanto Corporation the FTC wrote that its "staff agrees with FDA that food companies may inform consumers in advertising, as in labeling, that they do not use rBST."

Monsanto Complaint to FTC (512KB) , Feb. 2007

FTC Response to Monsanto (137KB) , Aug. 21, 2001

2007-2008 - China's Tainted Milk Scandal

"A Chinese court has condemned two men to death and sentenced a company boss to life for their roles in the production and sale of poisoned milk that killed at least six children and made almost 300,000 sick...

More than 50,000 infants were hospitalised with kidney problems after drinking Sanlu baby formula tainted with melamine, a chemical normally used to make plastics and fertiliser. Investigators said middlemen who bought milk from farmers and sold it on to dairies had watered it down and mixed it with the chemical, which creates the appearance of higher protein levels in quality tests...

Parents had contacted the company to complain as early as the end of 2007. But the scandal was not exposed until September 2008...

The scandal led to the screening of more than 20m babies for kidney problems, officials have said. It triggered a spate of product bans or recalls around the world after melamine was detected in exports such as chocolate, yoghurt and sweets."

Guardian   "China to Execute Two over Poisoned Baby Milk Scandal," Jan. 22, 2009

Jan. 8, 2008 - FDA Approves Cloned Milk for Human Consumption

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its 968 page report "Animal Cloning: A Risk Assessment,” and announced to the public that milk from cloned cows had been approved for human consumption.

In its Jan. 15, 2008 press release announcing the report and its conclusions, the FDA wrote that "meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.”

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)   FDA issues documents on the Safety of Food from Cloned Animals," www.fda.gov, Jan. 15, 2008

Aug. 3, 2011 - Market in Venice, CA Raided by Police for Selling Raw Milk; Three Arrested

"The owner of a Venice health food market and two other people were arrested on charges related to the allegedly unlawful production and sale of unpasteurized dairy products... The arrests of James Cecil Stewart, Sharon Ann Palmer and Eugenie Bloch on Wednesday marked the latest effort in a government crackdown on the sale of so-called raw dairy products. Prosecutors in Los Angeles alleged that Stewart, 64, operates a Venice market called Rawesome Foods through which he illegally sold dairy products that did not meet health standards because they were unpasteurized... Palmer, 51, has operated Healthy Family Farms in Santa Paula since 2007 without the required licensing for milk production, prosecutors allege. She and her company face nine charges related to the production of unpasteurized [raw] milk products. Bloch, a Healthy Family Farms employee, is charged with three counts of conspiracy."

Los Angeles Times "3 Arrested on Raw-Milk Charges," latimes.com, Aug. 4, 2011

LA County Prosecutor Felony Complaint for Arrest Warrant (466KB) , June 30, 2011

Mar. 2012 - US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Release Report on Dangers of Raw Milk

In March, 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report titled "Nonpasteurized Dairy Products, Disease Outbreaks, and State Laws - United States, 1993-1996," which concluded:

"Public health officials at all levels should continue to develop innovative methods to educate consumers and caregivers about the dangers associated with nonpasteurized dairy products. State officials should consider further restricting or prohibiting the sale or distribution of nonpasteurized dairy products within their states. Federal and state regulators should continue to enforce existing regulations to prevent distribution of nonpasteurized dairy products to consumers. Consumption of nonpasteurized dairy products cannot be considered safe under any circumstances."

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "Nonpasteurized Dairy Products, Disease Outbreaks, and State Laws - United States, 1993-1996" (268KB) , Mar. 2012

Feb. 24, 2014 - "Got Milk?" Advertising Campaign Dropped, Replaced with "Milk Life"

"Got Milk? Not anymore. The Milk Processor Education Program is sidelining the iconic ad slogan in favor of a new tagline, 'Milk Life,' which puts emphasis on milk's nutritional benefits, including its protein content.

The change is part of a national campaign launching Monday [Feb. 24, 2014] that seeks to return the sluggish dairy milk category to growth...

Protein is 'really in the news and on consumer's minds,' said Julia Kadison, interim CEO of MilkPEP. 'But a lot of people don't know that milk has protein, so it was very important to make that connection between milk and protein'...

The nutritional pitch is a very different positioning from the original concept that spurred the creation of 'Got Milk,' which was to dramatize situations in which consumers suffer without milk to accompany foods like cake and cookies."

Advertising Age    "'Got Milk' Dropped as National Milk Industry Changes Tactics," adage.com, Feb. 24, 2014

2015 - US Sales of Dairy Milk Fall as Non-Dairy Milk Sales Rise

"Driven by negative health perceptions, reduced retail prices and exports and a growing number of non-dairy alternatives, the US dairy milk market has declined in recent years, as new research from Mintel reveals that sales of dairy milk decreased 7 percent in 2015 ($17.8 billion) and are projected to drop another 11 percent through 2020. Seen as a better-for-you (BFY) alternative to dairy milk, non-dairy milk offerings continue to see strong growth, with gains of 9 percent in 2015 to reach $1.9 billion."

Mintel Group Ltd    "US Sales of Dairy Milk Turn Sour as Non-Dairy Milk Sales Grow 9% in 2015," mintel.com, Apr. 20, 2016

June 1, 2016 - Australian Regulators Approve Cold-Pressure Processing as Alternative to Pasteurization

"Unpasteurised milk will appear on shop shelves this week [June 1, 2016], with the food regulator declaring cold pressure as an effective method to kill the harmful bacteria lurking inside.

Sydney company Made by Cow has obtained the approval of the NSW Food Authority to use cold pressure as an alternative to conventional heat pasteurisation and sell 'cold-pressed raw milk'...

'Good herd management, hygienic milking techniques and the cold pressure method have meant we can put 100 per cent safe, raw milk onto supermarket shelves,' said [company founder] Mr Joye.'The bottles of milk are placed under enormous water pressure, squashed in about 15 per cent, to remove the harmful micro-organisms.'

Selling raw milk for human consumption is illegal in Australia because it contains micro-organisms that can increase the risk of contracting serious illnesses… [but] while the product is labelled 'cold-pressed raw milk', the NSW Food Authority says it doesn't recognise it as raw milk because it has undergone 'high pressure processing' to eliminate pathogens. It worked with Made by Cow for more than a year to ensure the product was safe and suitable for human consumption."

WAtoday    "'Cold-Pressed Raw Milk' Method Wins Regulatory Approval," watoday.com.au, June 1, 2016

Sep. 25, 2019 - Milk Residue Found in Prehistoric Baby Bottles

Late bronze age baby bottles used for drinking milk
Ashley Strickland, "Prehistoric Baby Bottles Still Have Milk Residue Inside," cnn.com, Sep. 25, 2019

"Researchers have uncovered three ceramic, spouted vessels believed to be prehistoric baby bottles. They were found in child graves in Bavaria, two from an Iron Age cemetery dated between 450 and 800 BC and another from a Bronze Age necropolis dated between 800 and 1200 BC, according to a new study [published in the journal Nature]... But for the first time, an analysis of three of these vessels revealed residue associated with animal milk, suggesting these bowls acted like baby bottles used during the weaning process... The residue contained palmitic and stearic fatty acids associated with animal fat, as well as short-chain fatty acids that are rarely detected in old pottery, according to the study. These acids are usually associated with fresh milk fat. Isotopic analysis also revealed that breast milk was potentially mixed with dairy milk. The researchers believe the animal milk used came from domesticated cattle, goats or sheep. This suggests that the children were being fed animal milk instead of breast milk or being weaned off of breast milk."

Cable News Network (CNN)    Ashley Strickland, "Prehistoric Baby Bottles Still Have Milk Residue Inside," cnn.com, Sep. 25, 2019

Jan. 6, 2020 - Two Largest American Dairy Companies File for Bankruptcy

"Borden Dairy Co., one of America's oldest and largest dairy companies, on Monday [Jan. 6, 2020] became the second major milk producer to file for bankruptcy in the last two months.

Tumbling milk consumption combined with the rising price of milk have crippled the dairy industry with debt. Dean Foods, America's largest milk producer, filed for bankruptcy November 12 [2019]…

The company said it also has been hurt by broader industry trends, including a 6% drop in overall US milk consumption since 2015. Borden noted that more than 2,700 family dairy farms went out of business last year, and 94,000 have stopped producing milk since 1992."

Chris Isidore, "One of America's Oldest and Largest Milk Producers Files for Bankruptcy," cnn.com, Jan. 6, 2020

Apr. 2020 - Dairy Farmers to Dump up to 3.7 Million Gallons of Milk per Day Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

A Pennsylvania dairy farmer dumps 5,500 gallons of milk down a drain.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner, "Why Dairy Farmers across America Are Dumping Their Milk," cnn.com, Apr. 15, 2020

Due to school and restaurant closures during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, demand for milk has dropped sharply. Low demand, combined with processing bottlenecks and grocery store ordering caps, has forced milk farmers to dump milk before it is delivered to processors.

Slowing milk production now instead of dumping could result in dairy shortages after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Zoey Nelson, a sixth-generation dairy farmer, stated, "You can't shut down cows. You can't turn them off like a faucet. Just to see it [milk] going down the drain -- it's devastating."

The Dairy Farmers of America estimate between 2.7 and 3.7 million gallons of excess milk could be dumped daily.

Danielle Wiener-Bronner, "Why Dairy Farmers across America Are Dumping Their Milk," cnn.com, Apr. 15, 2020

Vaughn Hillyard, Maura Barrett, and Matt Wargo, "Dairy Farmers Forced to Dump Milk as Demand Drops amid Coronavirus Closures," nbcnews.com, Apr. 13, 2020

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