February 26, 2009
Health Care Without Harm Press Release
Contact: Eileen Secrest 540-376-4495
Another Major Yogurt Maker Ends Use of Bovine Growth Hormone
Dannon Latest to Yield to Health Industry Demands
Arlington, VA — Dannon has announced to Health Care Without Harm that it will stop using milk from cattle injected with the growth hormone rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) to make its yogurt products by the end of 2009. Dannon responded less than two weeks after competitor Yoplait announced its own plans to eliminate rBGH from its product line. Both companies announced their plans after a number of major health facilities announced their intentions to provide only dairy products produced without rBGH to their patients, staff and visitors.
"This speaks to the power of the healthcare market and the work of committed purchasing and medical professionals."
— Jamie Harvie
The health care system purchases approximately $12 billion worth of food and beverages annually. In their drive to serve safer, more sustainable foods, major health systems across the country are switching to rBGH-free (also called rBST) milk and milk products, due to the evidence showing the hormone's adverse effects on animals and potential to harm human health. The use of rBGH in banned in Canada, the European Union, Australia and Japan.
"This speaks to the power of the healthcare market and the work of committed purchasing and medical professionals," said Jamie Harvie, Food Coordinator of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), an international coalition that focuses on helping the healthcare sector deliver services that protect the health of patients, community and the planet. "It also signals to milk product manufacturers that hospitals want all of their dairy produced with rBGH, including cheese, and they should take make the necessary steps to eliminate rBGH use across all dairy production."
At UC San Francisco Medical Center in San Francisco, CA, research guides decisions about how medical care is delivered and this mindset extends into food services as well. "This change has taken a long time and it is a result of pressure from concerned individuals and organizations demanding that companies do the right thing," noted Jack Henderson, Associate Director of the UC San Francisco Nutrition and Food Services Department, adding, "We switched away from product produced with rBGH with an aim and a desire for more healthy, sustainable products to be served at our Medical Center."
Across the nation, the health care sector has been working to increase pressure on yogurt manufacturers to provide r-BGH-free products. Hospitals setting this trend in the Pacific Northwest include Good Shepherd Hospital in Hermiston, Legacy Good Samaritan in Portland, and Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, WA. Many hospitals, including Oregon Health and Science University, have written letters to large national yogurt companies asking them to discontinue production of yogurt from milk produced with rBGH. Each of these hospitals has signed HCWH's Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge, indicating their dedication to promoting nutritious eating and sustainability at their facilities. The pledge has now been signed by more than 200 hospitals nationwide, which includes a commitment to serve rBGH-free products when possible.
Health Care Without Harm and San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility also praised recent decisions by UC San Francisco Medical Center, San Francisco VA Medical Center, and Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital to switch to local, rBGH-free yogurt. All three hospitals are members of the Hospital Leadership Team, a group of representatives from leading San Francisco Bay Area hospitals with a joint mission of bringing sustainable and local foods into their facilities.
In January, Catholic Healthcare West announced plans to seek rBGH-free milk products for its entire hospital system. In 2008 HCWH nurses work group developed a rBGH-free toolkit and initiated a letter writing campaign demanding that Yoplait and Dannon change their practice. The American Nurses Association supports the development of national and state laws, regulations and policies that specifically reduce the use of rBGH or rBST in milk and dairy production in the United States and has called on nurses and hospitals to purchase dairy produced without rBGH.
HCWH has an ambitious healthy food agenda, which includes buying fresh food locally and/or buying certified organic food; avoiding food raised with growth hormones and antibiotics; encouraging group purchasing organizations (GPOs) to support healthy food in healthcare; supporting local farmers and farming organizations; introducing farmers markets and on-site food box programs; reducing food waste; and establishing an overarching food policy at each health facility. More than 200 hospitals have signed the HCWH Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge. Signers pledge to work toward developing sustainable food systems in their facilities. To learn more about HCWH's work on food and other issues related to health care, visit the HCWH website.
Heath Care without Harm, an international coalition of more than 500 organizations in 53 countries, is working to transform the health care sector, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. To learn more about HCWH's work, visit our website at www.noharm.org, our YouTube channel at HCwithoutharm, and our twitter feed at hcwithoutharm.