Washington Post Questions Whether Aurora Organic Dairy Milk Is Truly Organic

By on May 11, 2017

Consumers pay a significant premium for organic milk because they believe the milk is produced using wholesome traditional farming methods that produce a more natural product.

But a recent investigative report by The Washington Post into organic dairy leader Aurora Dairy questions whether the milk meets the USDA organic certification requirements.

On May 1, 2017, WaPo reported that its investigation of Aurora Organic milk cast doubt that the milk was organic under the USDA definition which, among other things, requires that cows be allowed to graze on grass daily throughout the growing season.  Instead, according to WaPo, its monitoring of Aurora’s main dairy lot in Colorado showed at most only 10% of the herd was grazing, and a lab test of the milk concluded that on a key indicator for grass-feeding, the Aurora milk tested more like conventional milk than organic. Aurora spokespersons dismissed the allegations as untrue, saying the WaPo’s observations were anecdotal and that the lab test were an anomaly and may have reflected naturally varying levels of indicators in grass.

WaPo also said it contacted the inspectors who visited Aurora’s Colorado dairy, and was told by the inspectors that the last annual audit was conducted in November, which is well after the grazing season. According to WaPo “That means that during the annual audit, inspectors would not have seen whether the cows were grazing as required, a breach of USDA inspection policy.” 

The article also quotes “mom-and-pop” organic farmers who have long bemoaned lax USDA standards and inspections (performed by inspectors paid by the companies, not by the USDA), and complain that factory-scale organic dairies benefit financially by confusing consumers with the organic label, making it impossible for them to compete on price. 

The article can be found here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/why-your-organic-milk-may-not-be-organic/2017/05/01/708ce5bc-ed76-11e6-9662-6eedf1627882_story.html?utm_term=.6954c094b9c1