Friday, January 26, 2007

Ask Starbucks to Hold the Hormones in 50 States

Last month I posted about Food & Water Watch's December 5th Call-In Day where people asked Starbucks to guarantee that all of the milk, chocolate, ice cream, bottled Frappuccino drinks, and baked goods that they serve are free of rBGH, (recombinant bovine growth hormone), a genetically-engineered, artificial hormone used to make cows produce more milk.

Shortly after the Call-In Day, Starbucks announced that starting in January 2007 it would increase its supply of rBGH-free dairy by 10%, which would amount to 37% of their total supply and would only be in certain parts of the country.

Food and Water Watch and Sustainable Table are urging folks to call or write Starbucks and ask them to convert fully.

Here is the phone number:
1 (800) 235-2883
line should be staffed Mon – Fri 5 AM – 6 PM (PST)

Or you can send an email by clicking here.

Here is a sample text by Sustainable Table:

Dear Starbucks,

I am concerned about the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in your dairy products. While I applaud your pledge to make 37% of your milk supply free of artificial growth hormones by the end of January of 2007, I believe you can do better. As the largest coffee specialty retailer in the world, you are well positioned to require rBGH-free dairy for 100% of your products.

Specifically, I am concerned that the use of rBGH may lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria. When cows are injected with rBGH, it increases their likelihood of contracting painful udder infections, which are treated with common antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is a serious concern of numerous health organizations, such as the American Public Health Association, because it creates antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Another major concern I have with Starbucks’ use of rBGH is that there are potential cancer risks from this genetically engineered hormone. rBGH increases another hormone in cows and cows’ milk, called IGF-1. In numerous studies, too much IGF-1 is associated with higher rates of breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancer in humans.

The reality is that recombinant bovine growth hormone offers no consumer benefit. Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the entire European Union have banned rBGH. So why should your customers have to take this unnecessary risk?

In the past several years, many dairies and companies alike have responded to consumer concerns and decided to go rBGH-free. As the industry leader, Starbucks has unique buying power. Your company can and should require all dairy suppliers to ban recombinant bovine growth hormone. Your customers deserve nothing less.
Update 1.28.07: Here is the response I received after sending my email:

Hello Britt,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

At Starbucks, we are dedicated to upholding strict standards that help ensure the products we offer, including milk, are high quality and safe for consumption while meeting our customers' different needs and preferences.

Starbucks has made single-serve flavored organic milk, organic milk for our hand-crafted beverages, and organic soymilk as an alternative to cow's milk available to our U.S. Company-operated stores. Furthermore, we are actively engaged with all of our dairy suppliers to explore a conversion of all core dairy products - fluid milk, half and half, whipping cream and eggnog - to rBST-free in our U.S. company-operated locations. Significant work on this front has already been accomplished, in fact 27 percent of the dairy we buy is already rBST-free and 37 percent will be rBST-free starting in January, 2007.

For more information about Starbucks efforts to continue to learn about this issue, we invite you to visit Starbucks Corporate Social Responsibility Report at

To learn more about synthetic bovine growth hormone, please contact the Food and Drug Administration and

Again, thank you for contacting Starbucks. If you have any further comments or concerns, please feel free to contact us at or call (800) 23-LATTE to speak with a customer relations representative.

Warm Regards,

Rachel A.

Customer Relations

Starbucks Coffee Company

If you would like to share your thoughts about your experience with Starbucks Customer Contact Center, please click on the link below to participate in a short survey. Your comments will be used to ensure that any future experiences with Starbucks Customer Contact Center meet your highest expectations.

Photo Credit: American University student Julia Charvat calls Starbucks to request rBGH-free milk while Food & Water Watch cows provide moral support. National Call-In Day Dec 5th, 2006. Dairy Cows Ask Starbucks to Hold the Hormones uploaded by Food & Water Watch Staff.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:16 AM

    As long as we’re at it, consumer demand with media attention tends to turn heads, so another copy point to consider on food policy here would be Starbuck’s rather misleading elimination of ‘transfats’ messaging which implies ‘healthier fare.’

    Michele Simon’s “Appetite for Profit” blog addresses this nicely when she says, “Great, so there’s no trans fat in their muffins, but what about the 600-calorie frappuccino?”

    At Shaping Youth we deal with media and marketing’s influence on kids, and I can tell you I’ve seen plenty of ‘em suckin’ down those frappucinos like costly candy bars, which is not exactly what we need in terms of getting kids to ‘drink milk!’

    Along these lines, I just featured the fun “Mouth Revolution for Real Food!” movie on our site which has links to all of their fact sheets which make a strong stand for a ‘hold the hormones’ policy as well:


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