The latest on A1 and A2 milk from ABC

A1 and A2 milk articles continue to attract a lot of interest here on The Bovine. Here’s the latest on the subject — an ABC television program transcript from the April 7, 2010 edition of “The 7:30 report” dealing with the topic “Dairy Debate — claims that milk could make you sick”:

In this case ABC is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“Cows’ milk has long been championed as a part of a healthy, nutritious diet. But could it also be a trigger for a long list of diseases like juvenile Diabetes, heart disease, Schizophrenia even Autism?

[Note: Read this story for some background on A1 and A2 milk.]

KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: For generations, cows’ milk has been championed as a healthy, nutritious part of the daily diet, but there are claims it could also be a trigger of for a long list of diseases like juvenile diabetes, heart disease, schizophrenia and even autism. It’s a debate that started in New Zealand more than a decade ago after some scientists claimed regular milk could be harmful. The theory goes that a protein in regular milk called A1 can make its way to the bloodstream, causing disease. But other experts say the science is dubious and the dairy industry warns that critics of regular milk are sending a dangerous message. Lisa Whitehead reports.

LISA WHITEHEAD, REPORTER: It’s 6 o’clock in the morning in the central Victorian town of Kyabram and the local milk processing plant is in full swing. This raw milk is being pasteurised and bottled, bound for supermarkets in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

It looks and smells just like regular milk, comes from dairy cows and is full of calcium. But some claim this particular milk, called A2, is a wonder food.

MELISSA AITKEN: With the milk, it was an immediate difference.

LISA WHITEHEAD: Melissa Aitken made the switch from regular milk to A2 after months of battling bouts of deep tissue swelling and hives.

MELISSA AITKEN: My tummy symptoms that I did have as well, they settled down immediately. The rash and the deep tissue swelling took about four weeks to settle down.

LISA WHITEHEAD: She heard the A2 story from her neighbour, Kyabram dairy farmer Peter Mulcahy, who says he saw the same improvement in his daughter Alexandra.

PETER MULCAHY, DAIRY FARMER: She used to get diarrhoea and vomit as a baby if we gave her anything that had dairy in it, was seen to be the issue for her.

LISA WHITEHEAD: So just what is A2 milk?

Most dairy cows in Australia are A1, so-called because they give milk with an A1 protein. Other cows give milk with a combination of A1 and A2 proteins.

A third smaller group produces milk containing just the A2 protein.

Less than one per cent of the nation’s two million dairy cows are certified A2.

Peter Mulcahy’s family paid $150,000 to DNA test all their cows, sorting the A2 from the rest. It now supplies most of the raw A2 milk to the family-owned processing plant in Kyabram.

PETER MULCAHY: Watching the benefits in our kids certainly supported the decision to go down the A2 track, yeah.

MELISSA AITKEN: I shout it from the rooftops, so to speak. I try and let as many people know.

LISA WHITEHEAD: Consumer testimonials like theirs are a feature of the A2 milk company’s website, promoting the product as intolerance protection.

Critics like endocrinologist and nutrition expert Professor Peter Clifton say this anecdotal evidence isn’t supported by any clinical trials.

PETER CLIFTON, BAKER IDI HEART & DIABETES INSTITUTE: It’s the same as all the things in the health food shop: people buy them at vast expense, there’s no scientific evidence that they actually do anything, but people find, for them, it provides personal benefit and they’ll continue buying it.

MALCOLM RILEY, DAIRY AUSTRALIA: I’m not sure what intolerance protection actually means. A2 milk has lactose in it. If a person’s lactose intolerant, they’ll also be lactose intolerant to A2 milk.

LISA WHITEHEAD: Claims of intolerance protection are one thing, but in the past decade or so, supporters of the A2 theory have staked much higher ground, claiming regular or A1 milk could be the trigger for juvenile diabetes, heart disease, schizophrenia, even autism. They claim that trigger is found in a weak link in A1 milk’s chain of amino acids, causing the chain to break and creating a small piece called BCm7. They say that piece moves through the gut wall into the bloodstream causing disease.

It’s what Professor Keith Woodford of New Zealand’s Lincoln University calls “the devil in the milk”.

KEITH WOODFORD, AUTHOR, DEVIL IN THE MILK: I think we can say that there is very strong evidence and that it’s very definitely a very strong risk factor for all those diseases. We can still have some debate about proof and what do we finally mean by proof?

PETER CLIFTON: I think they are sending a dangerous message and all the epidemiology to date in relation to dairy consumption and health shows no harm.

LISA WHITEHEAD: The A2 theory made its first splash in the 1990s after some studies made a correlation between countries with a high consumption of regular milk and high rates of certain diseases.

PETER CLIFTON: There are so many differences between countries other than what their milk herds have. So to attribute differences in schizophrenia rates or type one diabetes rates on the basis of what kind of milk’s in the food supply is not convincing at all.

LISA WHITEHEAD: At almost twice the price of regular milk, A2 makes up just over half of one per cent of sales in the competitive white milk market. But due to some aggressive marketing, its share has trebled in the past three years.

The A2 milk company is a joint venture between New Zealand’s A2 Corporation and Freedom Foods. It’s wary about the way it promotes the product, mindful that back in 2004 another A2 milk marketer was convicted of making false and misleading health claims.

Why don’t you go as far as claiming that A1 milk can cause heart disease, juvenile diabetes, even autism?…”

Read the whole transcript here.

More on A1 and A2 milk on the Bovine:

Devil in the Milk

Dairy Science as if people mattered


Filed under News

17 responses to “The latest on A1 and A2 milk from ABC

  1. I read the book and and reviewed the current research and found the theory so far is non-sense. Force feeding vegan rabbits bovine milk continuosly? Seriously? This makes zero sense as a lab model. Obvious research bias and the usual ignoring of important variables. Over reaching and misinterpreting statistical research. A2 Corporation’s obvious vested interest in obtaining patents linking A1 beta casein to various maladies, such as, linking of A1 milk to heart disease and diabetes has always been a red flag with me and the fact that all the milk is produced by the standard dairy industrial complex filthy confinement/feed/drugs/etc processes were by the milk must be pasteurized in order to be consumed.

    This is clearly a commercial venture with research paid for by the organization promoting it. This is a marketing ploy by a large corporation that wanted to create a monopoly through fear. Nothing more. Buy into it if you like. The A2 Corporation went bankrupt in the U.S. a few years ago and currently have skeletal operations in New Zealand. The original founders of A-2 are now dead and no one is verifying their “work”.

    The benefits people are receiving through testimonial after tesimonial, as well as, the historical referent spanning thousands of years and the genetic research showing a clear human adaptation for consuming dairy is enough for me. My personal health has been transformed by drinking A1 milk. For many of you perhaps not so much. So be it. More milk for me.

    Most of the reported research involves twisted statistical information that has been used to prove the value of A2 milk. The same countries that show a high consumption of milk also have a significantly high intake of meat products. Perhaps, the meat products may also be implicated in heart disease and Type 1 diabetes. OR HOW ABOUT HOW THE MEAT WAS COOKED or PRODUCED ON FACTORY LOTS? And yet more variable missed much like the usual lumping both “Confinement Pasteurized and Fresh Clean Raw Milk together” as the same substance.

    New USDA ARS research says that pastured cows raw milk fats have 500% higher levels of CLA and other beneficial fats. CLA is one of many many benefits of drinking raw milk whether A1, A2 or mixed. Google for more info.

    Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures in CA recently made some interesting points regarding the current state of A1 vs A2 milk. The historical “theory” that suggests a genetic bovine split 5,000 years ago (made by the authors of “The Devil in the Milk”) hasn’t been proven and can’t be known for sure. Here’s a PDF for those interested:

    Click to access A-2%20OPDC%20position.pdf

  2. Pedro Barrera

    My personal experience with A2 milk resulted in a noticeable lack of mucous production after its consumption. My sinuses have always produced copious amounts of mucous whenever I consumed diary or products containing diary. I was greatly surprised when no mucous appeared after drinking A2 milk. My personal research continues…

    • Anniroc

      Learn how to spell “dairy” correctly if you want have a leg to stand on when proving a point. Unless eating your “diary” is what is ailing you-since it was misspelled twice I can only assume you do not know the correct spelling and was not a typo.

      • thebovine

        We didn’t retype this. So I guess that’s how they spell it in Australia, maybe according to the ABC stylebook. Thanks for your proofreading, Anniroc!

  3. Alistair Nicholson

    Thoughtful skepticism – reasonable. To describe it as ‘nonsense’ is a step too far for me.
    1. There is a biochemical pathway – clear, unambiguous.
    2. There are different outcomes in circulating chemicals in human serum between A1 and A2.
    3. A1 metabolites cause demonstrated changes that would directly relate to digestive tract behaviour e.g. gut motility and secretions, in a range of animal models including – yes, Rabbits, but also Dogs, and more relevant to humans, Rats and Mice.

    Population studies as a basis for choosing milk types are problematic. The two main Scandinavian Countries used have many similar characteristics in terms of meat consumption, smoking and exercise. Nevertheless, this type of observation, while provocative, falls short of proof. It always will. The best practice standard remains a randomised, double blind, long term trial with adequate numbers of human participants. Unless one plans to fund such a trial, however, complaining about its absence is not very relevant.

    I note pejorative terms like ‘nonsense’ coexist with a willingness to reject the idea of a genetic split without any evidence to show the A1 line has always existed. I have a difficulty with denying the genetic model. A2 milk is the natural form in Camels, Sheep and traditional breeds (like the beloved Jersey). If the A1 line had always existed in the proportion we have today, how can there be Countries whose traditional flocks are almost exclusively A2?

    This looks like a health claim that could and should be tested. If it’s true then Australia and New Zealand could have a strong marketing lead for our products plus a lower expenditure on Health. If it proves to be untrue – then we’ll know and save our consumers from exploitation. Seems Win/win to me.

  4. David du Plessis

    Hi My name is David du Plessis.

    I have just read the Organic Pastures Dairy Company’s take on the A1/2 issue so I am a bit late in replying but I hope this gets read. This are so many aspects to this issue and health/science in general so I will try to explain myself as best as I can. There is so much cynicism and aggression on the internet and sometimes I think it is quite out of place (it really didn’t bother me that ‘dairy’ was spelt incorrectly). Of course we can have strong feelings on these issues and the truth is important, but we should be looking for that, and not unnecessarily blasting each other.

    I certainly agree with the OPDC’s stance that raw, grass fed produced milk is the only way to go. I avoid pasteurised milk But the issue has to be looked at in it’s own right, we can’t say that pasteurised milk is bad for health therefore A1 milk has no problems.

    As far as I can see Proffesor Woodford is a man of integrity and I don’t believe he bought into this for money reasons. I think it was unfair of OPDC to label the whole thing as ‘nonsense’ and money oriented. Certainly it is possible that A2 corporation does many of it’s dealings for money (they would have to to stay alive) but give credit where credit is due, eg, Prof. Woodfords book and the research behind it. If the A1 threat is there then it must be taken seriously, not berated for reasons other than the issue/evidence that is there.

    I may be wrong but it seems that before OPDC had bad dealings with A2 Corporation they took the A1/2 research seriously and wanted to go into ‘A2’ milk. After the bad dealings they decided that the whole thing was a scam. This is what it appears but they will have to correct me if I am wrong. As I said, I respect them for their stance on whole, natural, raw milk. I am just suspicious about their accusations on the A2 issue as a whole.

    Assuming the ‘milk devil’ theory is correct, I wonder if pasteurisation exhagerates it’s effect. I would like to know more about the ‘A1’ effect when raw milk is consumed. Too many of the statistics were taken from populations using pasteurised milk. Non the less, to me, Prof. Woodford’s deductions seem sound.

    Sincerely, David

  5. Donna Hudson

    As soon as I read the ACRES USA interview with Keith Woodford, I knew it explained a lot of things. It explained why I couldn’t drink cows milk, why Dr. Twogood DC wrote the No Milk book about milk’s effects on headaches, neck and back pain, why I could drink goat’s milk just fine…. In the 2 years since reading The Devil in the Milk I have done a good bit of investigating on A1 vs A2 milk. For example, I found a Guernsey cow that I could drink the milk from, and could not give myself a headache with it no matter how I tried. Dr. Twogood says that if you react to milk, just try combining it with chocolate for an even worse effect. So I did, I heated the Guernsey milk to break off the BCM& (if present) and made hot cocoa. Yum, and no headache. After that cow was sold away, I tried some raw milk from 3 Jerseys, all mixed together. No go.
    Let’s not talk about juvenile diabetes or heart disease or the big stuff. Let’s just talk about the dairy market dwindling and dwindling as people discover that cows milk gives them headaches, or stomach aches or aches in general. I meet a lot of them, I have made it a habit to ask people if they drink milk, and if not, why not. You’d be surprised how many of them have reasons, real reasons. Their stomach hurts, or they get a headache, or they get phlegm. (There was an experiment done with mouse lung epithelial cells. When exposed to A1 milk they made mucous, when exposed to A2 milk they did not.) So I tell them about the Devil in the MIlk and tell them that goat milk doesn’t have BCN7 in it, and that if we can ever get A2 milk in this country, they will be able to drink it. They tell me they are drinking soy milk or rice milk or “coconut milk”, and I tell them that those things are highly processed junk.
    BCM7, the “Milk Devil” is so small it can cross the blood brain barrier and can affect 43 areas of the brain. Woodford states in his book that people with gluten intolerance talk of a “fog” lifting from their brains when they quit gluten, and yet gliadin (the peptide from improperly digested gluten that is also 7 amino acids long, like BCN7) can only affect 4 areas of the brain. The “fog” that lifted from my brain when I quit cows milk hadn’t been there for the 6 years that I drank goat milk, and it came on so gradually when I gradually began to drink cows milk that I didn’t know what was wrong with me, only that I couldn’t think and felt like I was dying. I avoid gluten and I avoid cows milk, and my life is liveable now. But if I had to ingest one or the other to keep from starvation, I’d take the gluten over the cows milk.
    My last 3 exposures to cows milk went thusly:
    1) Ate Indian food with a lot of milk in it one day, cooked milk of course so lots of BCM7 turned loose. I figured I’d have a headache afterward, but in addition to the headache I did a Jekyll to Hyde transformation and made my family’s life a living hell for that evening and the next day, lasted nearly 24 hours. Not only was I mean, but I felt incredibly justified. I also felt very sorry for myself. If you know people who are “emotional train wrecks” maybe it would be good for them to quit A1 milk.
    2) Decided to try half a cup of raw milk from a friend’s Jersey cow. Within a few minutes I got that weird, on-the-edge-of-my-chair feeling and took 2 aspirin to prevent a headache. All night long I had the flashing phosphenes that I have learned mean either pesticide or A1 milk exposure for me, but had no pain thanks to timely aspirin application. It was definitely the WORST flashing light experience I can remember though, and I don’t want to go through it again.
    3) I spent 2 days one weekend thinking that I felt like I’d eaten something with either wheat or cows milk in it, but could not think of anything I could have done wrong. I just didn’t feel right. Then I happened to look at the ingredients on the dark chocolate wrapper I’d eaten, and lo and behold, it had milk powder in it. Not something you expect to find in dark chocolate.
    And now, though I said I wouldn’t talk about the big things, I will talk about a few cases I have known personally. A woman I know developed juvenile diabetes around age 30. I asked what did her drs say about THAT? They had said it was “latent”. Then I heard about the Devil in the Milk and told her about it. She said that she was so allergic to milk as a child that she was never allowed any dairy products. In her early 20’s she hung out with friends who liked to go eat ice cream, and after eating ice cream she’d have horrible stomachaches. She wrapped her arms across her belly and bent over to show me how much it would hurt. I couldn’t help but notice that she had her hands laid right across her pancreas. So it took her maybe 8 years on cows milk to develop diabetes, so I suppose had she been on milk as a child she’d have developed it by age 8 and would have had a much shorter life. Someone died here recently of complications of juvenile diabetes, she was 54. She had had 3 kidney transplants in her life and was on dialysis again. How expensive is this type of person’s slow death to society compared to testing all the dairy bulls and pulling out all the A1A1 bulls? There was a young woman I met 40 years ago who was type 1 diabetic AND had a brother die of SIDS. Both are caused by A1 milk. Some people can’t break it down as quickly as others. Then there were the identical twin brothers here in town who both were type diabetics. One died in his mid thirties, the other was on disability and going downhill last I heard.
    I have a feeling that the A2 Corporation has been sort of converted into it’s own opposite. Doesn’t this happen all the time? You get some organization or agency designed to promote some good thing but give it 20 years and it’s really just preventing that good thing from happening more often.

  6. Donna Hudson

    very very interesting. I’d like to talk to you at length about your experiences
    + reseach. Please contact me = I have some good info. about A2 genetics, on my website
    There’s a pedigreed Guernsey bull up for sale right now in Ontario. Talk to Rob Forster at Guernsey Canada.

  7. I have a heritage breed of cow, the Canadian Lineback, kept in existence by Robert Lynch of Mallorytown ON. These cows are A2/A2. I have had mine tested at U Cal I am drinking A2/A2 milk and no side effects as described here above. An added bonus for my cowshare members.
    Ian in Dundas ON

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  9. marie

    What is Organic milk? Could it also be A1 or A2?

    • thebovine

      Whether milk is organic or not doesn’t mean that it’s A1 or A2 but given the processing practices of pooling milk, milk you buy as organic is unlikely to be purely one or the other.

  10. John Doyle

    This ABC program is just so typical of newsmaking today. If one has any connection to an actual event the reporting is seen to be inevitably distorted or just plain wrong! Here the unpreparedness of the journos has the specialists spouting platitudes and covering their backsides with denials.
    Thus the useful idea of bring information to the public is traduced. For all we know the specialist isn’t up to date on the research and he gives no indication that he is the right person to have asked. There is also the conflating of research with company morals, just to turn the whole exercise into mud.

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  12. Lucinda Milligan

    I have a mixed up herd of Holstein/Angus cross cows, as well as Jerseys and Brown Swiss. What are the odds that my milk is A1?

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  14. The idea that humans bred cows to be A2 or A1 in any organized manner hundreds of years ago prior to the A2 test is a simple and very misleading untruth. What humans did do was attempt to feed them selves with what ever mammal they could capture and domesticate and exploit to save themselves from starvation. All of those cows, sheep, goats, horses, and camels generally ate grasses. All of that milk was raw and much was fermented because of the lack of refrigeration. That’s the story of milk. The A2 corporation found a trait in some milk in some animals and has exploited those traits by whatever means possible. The act of pasteurization renders raw milk to be poorly digestible and allergenic to many consumers. This is aside from any discussions of A2 verses A1.

    I fine the entire A2 discussion to be premature and I much need of third party investigation. I am attending the 13th international Milk Genomics Consortium convention in Arhus Denmark this year. They will be discussing A2. We will see what our friends at UCDavis report about all of this.

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