Thursday, December 2, 2010

Plugrá Butter: European-Style, But Not European

An expensive-sounding pedigree doesn’t necessarily mean a food product isn’t subject to the ills plaguing so much of our food supply.

A perfect example is Plugrá butter, which has a reputation as a high-end butter favored by many professional chefs. According to the Plugrá website:

Some of the most impressive culinary masters insist on using Plugrá® European-Style Butter to ensure superior results in every masterpiece. Slow-churned for less moisture with the optimal 82% butterfat, Plugrá is the secret to richer, creamier sauces, flakier pastries, higher cakes, sizzling sautés, and flavorful presentation.
That all may be true, but tell us more about the cows supplying the milk used to make Plugrá. Here’s the e-mail response I received after calling Plugrá’s makers:
Dear Rob,

Thank you for contacting Dairy Farmers of America regarding Keller's Creamery and Plugrá butter.
Keller's Creamery, a division of Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. is a member owned cooperative of more than 10,000 dairy farmers in 48 states. Currently, the milk and cream used to make our butter does not come solely from dairy farmers who certify that their cows are not being treated with rbST or artificial growth hormones.

Thanks,


Consumer Affairs

Dairy Farmers of America
In addition, the butter is not organic, so it’s almost certain that the cows’ feed contains genetically modified crops.

So, while Plugrá may be “European-Style” in its taste and fat content, it is far from European. The European Union bans the use of hormones and antibiotics in livestock and the growing of genetically modified crops.

My favorite butters are Smjör (Iceland), Anchor (New Zealand) and Kerrygold (Ireland).

15 comments:

WordVixen said...

I'll have to look for Smjor- that's a new one on me! I haven't tried Anchor, but I do love Kerrygold. A few local grocery stores carry it in the summer (next time, I'm so stocking up).

I loved Plugra until I was able to get my hands on local, grassfed, organic butter. Since I've lost access to that, I've been buying Woodstock Farms, which is both organic and grassfed. It's the closest to Kerrygold or our local grassfed butter that I can find easily.

Chef Rob said...

Whole Foods is the only store/chain I know of that carries Smjör. Anchor is tougher to find.

Rob

Barbara said...

I was in Iceland last April, and loved the butter! On the way out of the country I bought some at the airport grocery. Sitting at the gate with my friend, she said "Did you see the butter in that store? Why would anyone buy butter at an airport?" I showed her my purchase. I was glad to have Smjor, and some killer blueberry preserves, when I got home.

BrSpiritus said...

I found this while researching about Plugra butter and I can't say I'm surprised. You hit the nail on the head with the "Ills plaguing our food supply comment". I can speak from experience about anchor butter as it was all I bought when I lived in the Philippines for 3 years... I love it but unfortunately it's not available here in Florida.

The Vintage Recipe Blog

Anonymous said...

Just thought I'd mention I was recently able to find Anchor butter at my local Walmart and Kerrygold at Target.

Catherine said...

Here at Le Bon Vivant in Cincinnati, we sell only President unsalted butter from France, which in our view is the best available. Our pastry chef uses President unsalted butter in all her baking. The difference is noticeable - and delicious.

Chef Rob said...

Catherine,

I just checked out Le Bon Vivant's website. If I am ever in Cincinnati, I'll stop by!

Frederick T Schurger said...

Thanks for this Chef Rob! I've been wondering the same thing recently. I've recently come across Kerrygold and Smjor (love this stuff) and even tho I've been using Organic Valley's pastuered butter, it's just not the same.

Anonymous said...

Kerrygold cows have 3% of their diet consisting of GM Crops - imported. Very disappointing as we loved Kerrygold.

Kathy Handyside said...

"The European Union bans the use of hormones and antibiotics in livestock and the growing of genetically modified crops."

That's because Europe is intelligent, while America is stupidly corporate-run. If the corporations want all the additives, hormones, antibiotics, and GMO in our food, that's what we get in our food, because corporations are the only voice our government hears. We are being poisoned by our food industry every day, and all in the name of greed and profit. It's disgusting.

Anonymous said...

So glad I found your post. I was very excited to buy the product, thinking I was getting something "good". I was horrified to come back to my office, sit down and see "Dairy Farmers of America" on the bottom label, because, well, I just don't have much faith in our corporate businesses. I googled their website and couldn't find any information other than how delicious it is. So glad I found you, and I'll be looking for the brands you mentioned above. And yes, I will be taking my glasses with me next time to the grocery store.

Sally said...

I also contacted the makers of Plugra back in 2012 and got almost the same identical response:

"Dear Sally,

Thank you for contacting Dairy Farmers Of America regarding our Plugra
Butter. All milk used in the processing of our butter products have been
tested for antibiotics and is compliant with FDA Requirements

Keller's Creamery, a division of Dairy Farmers of America, Inc. is a member
owned cooperative of more than 10,000 dairy farmers in 48 states.
Currently, the milk and cream used to make our butter does not come solely
from dairy farmers who certify that their cows are not being treated with
rbST or artificial growth hormones. According to the US Food and Drug
Administration, no significant difference has been shown between milk
derived from rbST treated and non-rbST treated cows."

It's too bad. There product is easily accessible to me, but I refuse to use it.

Butterfly Esthetics said...

The cow's for Kerry Gold Butter are fed GMO alfalfa. It used to actually be listed in the fine print way down deep in their information barely able to be found, but the truth is, it contains GMO's. :(

Janis Pate said...

Hi Rob, I'm hoping that more information has come forward since you posted this in 2010. Your assertion that because a farm is not organic they most likely are feeding their cows GMO feed is not only inaccurate and short-sighted, but also misleading to those you seek to educate. Certifying a farm organic requires a lot of paperwork and added expense (did you know there is a percentage of crop required to be paid to certify organic?) Many farms follow responsible and sustainable practices that you would like to see and yet don't choose to hand over a percentage of revenue so that they can certify organic. That may or may not be the case here, but I would trust and respect you as an expert more if you provided a full picture to your audience. Thank you!

Jamie Laeke said...

Thank you