Starbucks said to be going rBGH-free

SEATTLE Starbucks Corp. pledged today to rid the milk and dairy products served in its cafes of recombinant bovine growth hormone, a synthetic compound injected into cows to increase their milk output, according to media reports.

The 8,500-unit coffee chain has been under pressure from bloggers and activists to discontinue its use of milk or other products containing the hormone, which is commonly known as rBGH. Last summer an alliance of 30 activist groups choreographed a 23-city demonstration against Starbucks' policy of remaining neutral on rBGH. They noted that use of the compound is banned in the European Union, Canada, Japan and Australia.

In late December, the 585-unit Chipotle Mexican Grill chain disclosed that it was switching to a rBGH-free sour cream.

Starbucks told the Reuters news agency that it would purge its 5,500 company-operated stores of rBGH first, and then encourage its 3,000 franchised or licensed locations to follow suit. The company is based here.