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Designer milk – The A2 debate

What is A2 milk and do we need to drink it? There is some debate about the health benefits of A2 milk and whether A1 milk has a negative health effect. Here is some history and information about the science and business behind it… and my two cents worth about whether we need to drink it.

There are two types milk casein protein, A1 and A2. A2 is high in goat and sheep milk products. Some cow breeds such as Jersey and Guernsey cows have traditionally produced A2 milk (although today they have to be tested and certified to be sure) whereas milk from black and white cows such as Holsteins usually produce mostly the A1 protein variant. Any breed of cow can be used in selective breeding to produce A2 milk again. Since 2003, specially produced A2 milk has been available in Australia.

After a search for any evidence for or against the health benefits of A2, or the negative consequences of consuming A1 milk, there is little evidence that A1 milk protein causes any negative health consequences.  Also, science and nutrition experts have some doubt about the reliability of peer-reviewed research undertaken by Curtin University, and paid for by A2 Milk, which found A2 milk could be easier to digest than regular cow milk.

Australian laws forbid companies from making misleading health claims about food, and in September 2004, A2 Dairy Marketers in Australia was fined $15,000 after it pleaded guilty to six breaches of those laws. The fact that few health claims are being made today about A2 milk in its marketing and promotions indicates to me that there are no health benefits to drinking A2 milk.

The A2 Corporation licensed patents filed in the 1990s by the New Zealand Dairy Board, and filed its own patents on genetic tests to determine what form of beta-casein cows produce in milk, and concerning potential adverse health consequences of A1 milk. By 2012 A2 had developed a worldwide suite of intellectual property to protect its business, including trademarks, trade secrets, and patents covering the genetic test and methods to develop A2 producing herds, as well as methods to check the protein content and fatty acid content of milk, dietary supplements with A2 beta-casein, and even therapeutic uses of A2.

There is further information (including references) about the history of the A2 corporation on Wikipedia for you to get the whole picture. An interesting read.

My view? Patents mean big money and often at the expense of the greater good. 

Milk is best consumed in small amounts and the less processed the better… So use ORGANIC WHOLE MILK (as it came from the cow – pasteurised of course) in moderation. If you get a reaction to this then you may be intolerant to dairy milk and I would suggest finding a substitute like sheep or goat milk products … use organic where possible. 

Linda Krick is a medical herbalist who uses herbal treatments, nutritional supplements and dietary and lifestyle advice to heal and manage illness, or to maintain good health.

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