Ice cream giant going artificial growth hormone-free

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NEW YORK — Here’s the scoop: Breyers ice cream is going artificial growth hormone-free.

The ice cream brand on Wednesday announced plans to stop using milk from cows treated with the controversial hormone rBST.

While the grocery store milk cooler is largely rBST-free — WalMart, for example, stopped buying milk from farms that use hormone treatments in 2008 — the ice cream section has been slower to follow.

Among the few big brands that refuse to use milk from rBST-treated cows are Haagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s, which like Breyers is owned by international consumer products giant Unilever.

Ben & Jerry’s went rBST-free in 1989, and views the stance as part of its socially-conscious business model.

Breyers said “most of our ice cream products” will be rBST-free by March. Its other ice cream brands, including Good Humor, Klondike, Magnum and Popsicle, will follow.

The move will make Unilever “the largest ice cream manufacturer in the world to make this commitment,” it said.

Recombinant bovine somatotropin, known by the more pronounceable acronym rBST, is a chemical designed to be similar to the natural growth hormones produced by cows. Critics note it allows for cattle to develop when kept in tight quarters, like factory farms.

The federal Food and Drug Administration has noted “strong concerns” to the use of growth hormones in food, but approved its use. It is banned, however, across Europe and in a handful of other countries.

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