The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has instructed four dairy companies to stop using the words “hormone-free” and “contains no hormones”on dairy product labels. Hormones are naturally occurring in all milk; therefore no milk beverage or product made from milk can be labeled as being free of hormones. 

According to Mark McClellan, FDA commissioner, the FDA takes a strong stand against misinformation on labels. Consumers need the assurance that what they read on the label is indeed factual. And in this case, milk and ice cream products labeled as “hormone-free” and containing “no hormones” is a false claim. 

During recent inspections, FDA investigators collected labels of dairy products, including various milk and ice cream products. FDA reviewed the labels and determined that the statements "No Hormones" and "Hormone Free" are false claims, and therefore, the products are misbranded under section 403(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The FDA sent warning letters to the companies which explain that the label claims regarding hormones are false claims because all milk contains naturally occurring hormones, and milk can not be processed in a manner that renders it free of hormones. If the companies fail to take prompt action to change their labels, the FDA can take further action.

The companies may have wanted to say their products do not contain any milk from cows treated with recombinant bovine somatotropin. FDA does allow food manufacturers to list this type of information on the label provided the statements are truthful and not misleading.

FDA press release