Farmery A1 A2 milk

Recently there has been much brouhaha around A2 milk. At Farmery we see much of this as playing on fear psychosis to influence consumers using borrowed internet material which is not completely factual. Our view is based on hard facts and request all our customers not to be mislead by false claims.

1) What is A1, A2 debate all about?

There are two types of protein in milk - Casein and Whey (Whey is what is leftover in water post making paneer). Casein is of two types A1 or A2. A1 Protein the allegedly bad protein is found only in select cows rest all the cattle like Buffalo, Goat and even human beings produce A2 milk. A1 protein is supposedly branded as a bad protein causing various diseases while A2 milk produced by Indian bred cows has all the good benefits.

Most of us conclude that the color or breed of the cows determine A1 or A2 but the fact is that in India all milk is A1/A2 mix as most of the cattle are cross-bred. Identifying 100% true A2 milk would mean genetically testing all the cattle herd which is not possible by small players. So there is no way for the consumers to figure out what is being supplied to them labelled as A2 milk is a true A2 milk unless big brands like Amul start selling and certifying this.

2) What is the stand of Public authorities on this issue?

Two international Study Groups comprising of renowned scientists, one in New Zealand and the other by European Union (European Food Safety Authority), have gone through available publications and evidences on the subject and have concluded that fear about A1 milk was unfounded. There are also independent panel reports which have concluded that as yet there is no clinching evidence to ring public warning. The controversy in few developed countries appears to be driven by commercial motives as in New Zealand a company called A2 Corporation has been formed which owns A2 related patents and brand name and has been demanding mandatory testing of animals for purpose of labeling.

With so much scrutiny on food by FSSAI in India by not sparing even big brands like Nestle for Maggi, do you think that if A1 was harmful it would have been legally allowed to continue by Food Authorities and Indian Government?

3) Is consumption of A1 milk cause of heart disease, diabetes and such other diseases in humans?

The scare about so called harmful effects of A1 milk in media is being spread by ill-informed group of activists. Firstly, one should understand that there is a huge difference between ‘causal factor’ and ‘risk factor’ as the later only increases risk of a disease but cannot cause the disease on its own. The published survey reports although point out risk association but overzealous campaigners have started labelling these as disease causal factors. The controversy started with papers published starting from late 1990s by Dr. Elliott’s group in Australia. One such paper has reported results of a survey wherein food consumption trends in 20 developed countries were compared with official mortality rates due to chronic heart diseases (CHD), juvenile insulin-dependent type I diabetes mellitus (DM-I) and other diseases. The association was found to be stronger in high altitude countries, such as North America and North Europe. India was not included as part of the study and moreover, it is not high altitude and has radically distinct socio-economic attributes. So these results cannot be extrapolated to India and the controversy for us stops there only.

Survey based epidemiology studies that compare situations in different countries in respect of food consumption and disease prevalence or mortality have several inherent limitations. These papers attracted lot of criticism as inferences drawn were overarching and erroneous. The assumption in the report was that every individual in the country was exposed to equal level of risk factor (for example A1-casein-milk), which we know cannot be true due to socio-economic differences within the country. Lastly results of such surveys provide flexible opportunity to the industry, media and scientists to pick up and magnify observations as per their perceptions. For example in these and other reports even rice, wheat and soy have been alleged to be comparatively stronger diabetogenic than milk but did not attract so much of media and public attention.

Lastly, in such chaotic situation sane and independent voices of even eminent scientists group do not get attention. Dr. Truswell a renowned scientist from Australia in 2005 and European Food Safety Authority in 2009 after critically going through available literature published excellent papers rebutting claims about A1 casein milk but in media these are scarcely mentioned.

Report 1: The A2 milk case: a critical review

Report 2: EFSA reveals milk protein safety conclusions

However individuals may digest Cow milk -A1 or A2 or Buffalo Milk depending on their body constitution differently, so if there are no issues like digestion etc with your existing milk there is no reason to worry. Wishing you all good health!