EFSA reveals milk protein safety conclusions

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food safety authority, Milk

A new European review of the safety of proteins used in milk and dairy product formulation has found no link between their consumption and an increased risk to health, which could bring an end to an historic dispute.

There has been ongoing debate over the health implications of proteins such as beta-casein A1 and A2, which are the most common proteins in cow’s milk, involving major dairy groups including the New Zealand-based cooperative Fonterra.

Now the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has completed its review of available scientific literature that addressed the possible health effects of beta-casein and related peptides in milk and other foods, such as autism, cardiovascular diseases and type I diabetes.

It concluded that “a cause and effect relationship is not established between the dietary intake of BCM7 (beta-casomorphin-7), related peptides or their possible protein precursors and non-communicable diseases”.

As a result, a formal EFSA risk assessment is not recommended.

The review has far-reaching implications as, when it was launched a year ago, New Zealand’s Food Safety Minister, Lianne Dalziel, said the outcome would resolve the current debate around the science of A1 and A2 milks.

He also said at the time that it meant that it was no longer necessary for New Zealand Food Safety Authority to stage its own review designed to allay consumer fears related to claims made in a book by Lincoln University professor Keith Woodford that the A1 protein may be damaging to health.

A1 versus A2

Fonterra, which supplies milk containing A1, has been at loggerheads with the New Zealand-based A2 Corporation, which produces milk containing A2 and claims this offers improved reduction in health risks that is not the case with A1.

According to reports on 3news.co.nz, Fonterra welcomed the EFSA review - which canvassed claims that milk containing A2 was less likely to cause health problems than milk containing A1 – and said it reinforced a need for health-related claims to be proven before they are widely publicised.

Fonterra spokesman Jeremy Hill reportedly said: "The review showed that different types of cow's milk are safe to drink and no one type of milk is safer than another."

Dr Clarke, A2 Corporation chief strategic and scientific officer, said that A2 Corporation also welcomed the review.

However it was pleased that EFSA had “clearly identified that BCM-7 (yielded from A1 beta casein) can act as an opioid that can have ‘different effects in the lumen and intestinal mucosa, such as regulatory effects on gastro-intestinal motility and on gastric and pancreatic secretions’.”

Dr Clarke claimed this meant there was “strong potential for the protein fragment in question, BCM-7, to have wide ranging effects on the digestive system”.

A2 milk was launched in New Zealand and Australia in 2003, and has also seen interest in the UK, South Korea and the USA.

Related topics: Science, Dairy-based ingredients

Related products

show more

Free booklet: Fat extraction for food analysis

Free booklet: Fat extraction for food analysis

BÜCHI Labortechnik AG | 09-Dec-2019 | Technical / White Paper

Fat extraction is a standard reference method for quality control, labeling and satisfying stringent regulations. "The five essentials of fat extraction...

Know your Ethnic Dairy Opportunities

Know your Ethnic Dairy Opportunities

DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences | 05-Dec-2018 | Technical / White Paper

Global consumers often look for something new from the yogurt category and products with a good story. In Western markets, this demand is driving a trend...

Everything about in-container sterilization

Everything about in-container sterilization

John Bean Technologies (JBT) | 01-Nov-2018 | Application Note

JBT has a long history and an extensive track record in thermal processing of packaged food. JBT retorts and sterilizers are renowned for their outstanding...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Events

View more

Products

View more

Webinars