Costco is known for their great deals and their private label Kirkland Signature. However, the issue with all private labels from grocery stores is the lack of transparency behind where the products come from.
Many might assume Costco produced their Kirkland Signature products; however, this often isn’t the case. Have you stopped to wonder who makes Kirkland milk?
Kirkland Signature milk is most likely produced by Aurora Organic Dairy. Aurora has dairy plants in Colorado and Texas that are home to over 15,000 cows. They supply many private label manufacturers such as
In this article, we will discuss Aurora Organic Dairy, the quality of Kirkland Milk, and some of the controversy surrounding Aurora.
Table of Contents
Is Kirkland Milk Good Quality?
Kirkland milk is of good quality, especially for the price. The ingredients include certified organic grade milk, fish oil, and vitamin d3.
There are 160 calories for each cup of milk, 9g of fat, 8g of protein, 286mg of calcium, and 11g of carbohydrates.
While these ingredients and nutrition facts may seem comparable to other private label milk brands, the one difference you may have noticed is the fish oil.
Most whole milk actually doesn’t include fish oil, so why does Kirkland Signature milk include it?
Why Does Kirkland Milk Include Fish Oil?
Fish oil is a great source of omega-3. This is generally found in fatty fish and grazing animals. This poses an interesting question, why does Aurora add fish oil to their milk when their cows should produce enough due to their grazing diet?
It comes down to two different scenarios, one is the Aurora cows aren’t getting enough grass to increase the levels of omega-3s in their milk, or the company simply wants to boost the level of omega-3s to increase the health benefits of their milk.
However, the addition of fish oil poses a problematic question regarding the organic status of Aurora milk. Should additives be added to organic products? The answer is a little more complicated than you might think and relates to some controversy surrounding Aurora farms.
Who Is Aurora Organic Dairy?
Aurora Organic Dairy was founded in 1976 and established their first dairy farm by converting an old feed lot in Platteville, Colorado. Although they didn’t start out producing organic milk, they began making the transition in 1990 and dedicated a pen of cows to organic milk production.
By 2003 they transitioned the entire Platteville dairy farm to produce 100% organic milk, and in 2004 they built the milk plant. The farm is over 900 acres and is home to over 1,500 cows.
They also have a dairy farm in Gill, Colorado home to 12,150 cows. In addition to their Colorado locations, they have two dairy farms in Texas. They are the largest supplier of organic milk in the United States!
What Are The Requirements Aurora Must Meet To Label Themselves An Organic Dairy Farm?
Aurora Dairy Farm is certified organic by the USDA, which means they are required to uphold certain standards.
Their dairy farms are monitored by two independent USDA-accredited certifiers. Most organic dairy farms only have one USDA-accredited certifier, which shows that Aurora is serious about their organic label.
In addition to their commitment to monitoring, they also picked locations where they can allow their cows to graze year around in grassy pastures. One of the requirements of organic milks is that the cows must be grass-fed, in fact, a total of 30% of their nutrition must come from pasture grazing.
The grazing season is at least 120 days, which is in compliance with USDA standards as well. The large pastures allow the cows plenty of room to exercise, while still having easy access to shelter when needed.
Aurora is dedicated to making sure their cows maintain good health and is always monitoring the heard at their farms to watch out for early signs of disease or injury.
What Is The Controversy Surrounding Aurora Dairy Farms?
Aurora Dairy Farms has been subject to some controversy about the actual grazing practices employed in their farms, with a complaint that only 10% of their cows are actually grazing, while the remainder is being fed primarily in feedlots.
This complaint has not been confirmed and has been denied by Aurora. However, if we look at the addition of fish oil in this view, it may support that Aurora is not grazing their cows as much as they say, and need to boost the omega-3s using fish oil.
However, many are opposed to using additives in organic products and claim that it defeats the purpose. The USDA has not issued a final rule regarding the use of fish oil additives yet, and so for now the process may continue.
While Costco hasn’t confirmed that Aurora supplies their organic milk, we can say with a high percentage of certainty that they likely do, as they have been reported to supply name-brands such as Costco, Target, and
All-in-all Aurora Diary does seem to operate their farms in adherence to organic standards, and although reports have been made about the lack of grazing, these have not been confirmed.
If you don’t mind the additive of fish oil to your milk then Kirkland Signature may be a good choice, but if you prefer milk without additives, it might be best to purchase another brand.
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