Earlier this month, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) released a report in which it recommended abandoning the current Protein Digestibility Correct Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) with a new method called the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acids Score (DIAAS).
Using the DIAAS system, researchers found that dairy proteins could deliver up to 30% more amino acids than plant sources like soy isolates.
Unsurprisingly, the dairy industry has welcomed the FAO recommendation, claiming that it demonstrated “the superiority of dairy proteins” over plant-based sources.
In response to the FAO findings, the European Natural Soyfoods Association (ENSA) issued a statement claiming that the new method would only be useful in developing areas of the world that suffer from high rates of malnutrition.
Fonterra and Arla Foods have slammed ENSA’s claims, stating that protein deficiency is still an issue in developed states.
Developed world protein deficiency
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Fonterra’s Angela Rowan and Aaron Fanning accepted that while protein deficiency is more common in third world countries, people in the developed world do still suffer.
“It is true that we generally do not see protein deficiency in western states. In African states rates are quite high, and there is not a lot in North America for example,” Fanning, a research scientist in the nutritional science team at Fonterra Research and Development Centre, accepted.
“But if not meeting amino acid requirements, people anywhere in the world can suffer from protein deficiency.”
Rowan, programme manager for nutrition and health at Fonterra Nutrition, added: “It is quite common in the western world that people have nutritional problems, which could be down to consumption of low quality proteins.”
“Even if you ate a huge amount of poor quality protein, you could still become protein deficient. We shouldn’t need to over-consume proteins to meet amino acid requirements.”
Jack Egelund Madsen, business development manager at Arla Foods Ingredients, reiterated the claims made by Fonterra.
“If you look at the world, it is growing. It is also ageing. That is a lot of people with nutritional needs.”
“A recent US study found that a lot of patients that go into hospital are malnourished,” said Madsen. “That underlines the fact that malnutrition is not just a third world problem. It is also a problem in developed parts of the world too.”
“More accurate way” of determining amino acid
“If you look at the general population, there has been an increased focus on maintaining healthy lifestyles,” said Madsen. “That means there is a focus on nutrition – consumers are more concerned by the nutritional value of products.”
Weighing in, Rowan branded protein quality as the “flavour of the month.”
“It is adding to the way that consumers view protein. It provides benefits for a whole range of consumer situations,” said Rowan. “DIAAS is a more accurate way of determining the quality of dietary protein and amino acids requirements.”
“Consumers should know if they are eating suitable, high quality proteins,” she said.
Arla Foods Ingredients’ Madsen concluded: “These findings are new great news for us in the dairy industry. But it might not be as great news for others.”