New Zealand backs A1 milk safety

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Milk

Regular milk has won a vote of support for its general safety after the New Zealand government backed a European assessment that found no concerns about the A1 casein forms it contains and reversed an earlier commitment to conduct a review of its own.

A1 caseins have been linked to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, autism and schizophrenia – giving rise to an alternate and niche industry promoting a form of cow’s milk containing apparently more benign A2 milk protein caseins.

But after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) conducted a review of A1 milk and found no safety issues, the NZ Ministry of Food Safety said there was no need for the country that house’s the world’s biggest dairy, Fonterra, to conduct a similar review.

Food Safety minister, Kate Wilkinson, said there was little point in furthering investigation into A1 milk, the same milk drunk the world over by billions of people, and which is mostly derived from Holstein and Friesian cows.

“The EFSA review is considered definitive and it found that there was no need for a risk assessment of the safety of A1 milk,”​ Wilkinson said.

The Devil in the Milk

Concerns about regular A1 milk rose earlier this decade after attention gathered around a book called, The Devil in the Milk​, that highlighted diseases that may stem from the use “mutated”​ or A1 caseins.

Written by Dr Keith Woodford, The Devil in the Milk ​summarized about 100 studies and argued the 300 million-strong global A1 herd should be switched to A2 milk-producing cows.

Of the NZ government decision to back the EFSA safety review, Dr Woodford stated in press reports: “There are many misstatements within the cabinet paper, presumably supplied by the New Zealand Food Standards Agency. This includes that supposedly all parties agreed that the EFSA findings would be definitive. In fact, the EFSA findings were inevitable given the very narrow terms of reference that were chosen.”

“It is very important that the public do not interpret this situation as meaning that the science is settled in relation to A1 and A2,”​ Dr Woodford said.

A2 milk is available in major supermarkets in Australia from companies such as the New Zealand's A2 Corporation, and has also debuted in the UK and has a limited presence in New Zealand.

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