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Milk remains safe

Milk remains safe

13 September 2007

Consumers are advised to keep drinking milk as a nutritious food, no matter whether it's A1 or A2, as there is no food safety issue with either type of milk, says NZFSA Director of Food Standards, Carole Inkster.

"Recent media reports of issues with milk, based on a book release, are not backed by scientific evidence."

"Professor Boyd Swinburn's 2004 review of the literature on possible benefits of A2 milk over A1 concluded that there is insufficient overall evidence that either milk has benefits over the other. However, it does note that further work is needed in this area to determine any causative relationships between types of milks and certain diseases. We are not aware of any new research from anywhere in the world, and can only conclude that the world's medical researchers have not seen the A2 hypothesis as a high priority for investigation."

The report, Beta casein A1 and A2 milk and human health, available in full from the NZFSA web site, examines whether some milk proteins might cause or protect against type 1 diabetes, heart disease, schizophrenia and autism.

Professor Swinburn concludes in the report, which was internationally peer-reviewed:

"The hypothesis that a high intake of milk containing A1 β-casein promotes conditions as heterogeneous as DM-1 [type 1 diabetes], IHD [Ischaemic heart disease], schizophrenia and autism is intriguing and potentially important. There is some very suggestive evidence from ecological studies for DM-1 and IHD, and there is certainly a possibility that the A1/A2 composition of milk is a factor in the etiology of these conditions. However, this hypothesis has yet to be backed by good human trials. The evidence in relation to autism comes mainly from poorly controlled clinical trials of gluten-free, casein-free diets where some improvement is noted in the autism characteristics and behaviours. The evidence in relation to schizophrenia is very minimal."

Carole Inkster says Professor Swinburn's review shows that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate benefits of one type of milk protein over another, and notes that one of the reasons the review was initially commissioned was to determine whether health claims that were being made by the A2 Corporation were valid.

"The review made it clear that the claims being made could not be substantiated. We understand that this new book, which is published by a general publisher, is not presenting new science but is continuing to consider the material that was available to Professor Swinburn.

"NZFSA is concerned that the unsubstantiated claims being made do nothing more than scare some people away from a safe, nutritious and beneficial food."


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