Knowledge for better food systems

Your “grass-fed” milk may actually not be, but a new technology could change that

Image: Apostolos, Cow, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

A new technique has been devised to verify whether the cows producing ‘organic’ milk have actually spent the required 120 days a year grazing outdoors.

Previously, testing relied on expensive and slow gas chromatography to measure levels of fats in milk, which vary between grass-fed and indoor-raised dairy herds. The new technique using fluorescence spectroscopy to instantly measure chlorophyll content in milk by shining light at the sample. The more chlorophyll, the more fresh grass the cow has eaten.

Industry players are already interested in using the new technique to validate their claims. One company is even marketing milk from cows fed a 100% grass diet.

Read the article here. See also the Foodsource content What are the environmental issues associated with milk and dairy?

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North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

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