5 Feb 2009

Study finds no link between A1 milk, health problems

1:28 pm on 5 February 2009

A review by the European Food Safety Authority has found no direct link between the A1 protein in milk and non-communicable diseases.

Some scientific studies have suggested that drinking milk containing the A1 protein could increase the risk of heart disease, Type 1 diabetes and autism.

That was the basis for the formation of the A2 Corporation, which promotes and receives royalties for the use of milk that does not contain the A1 protein.

New Zealand dairy cows produce milk containing either A1 or A2 proteins or a combination, but there is debate over possible health risks associated with A1 milk.

The review studied the available scientific literature and recommends against carrying out a formal risk assessment.

Chief executive of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority Andrew McKenzie says it proves consumers should not worry whether milk is A1 or A2.

The authority was planning to commission another review of the science behind the debate, but stepped back after the European Authority decided to carry out its own review.

Mr McKenzie says the authority will continue to keep an eye on any new studies on the issue.

The A2 Corporation says the findings do not change its view that the A1 protein in milk increases the risk of medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes

Chief scientific officer Andrew Clarke says the company welcomes parts of the review which acknowledge that BCM7, present in the A1 protein, affects the digestive system.

Andrew Clarke agrees with the report's statement that more research is needed to calculate an actual risk to consumers, and said regulatory authorities should be doing some of that research.

Lincoln University professor Keith Woodford, whose research is at the centre of a debate over possible health risks associated with A1 milk proteins, said the arguments about the benefits of A2 milk should not be written off.

Professor Woodford says the review does not appear to have taken into account material presented in his book on the issue, which he said would have explained apparent contradictions in some of the trials.

He said European Food Safety Authority is looking for one single piece of conclusive evidence, however evidence that would satifisy the authority will probably never be found.