Dairy UK and The Dairy Council expressed serious concerns this week when the Daily Express and the Independent reported on a recent study focusing on the alleged benefits of A2 milk over conventional milk.
Among other confusing statements, the Daily Express’ article entitled “The Milk That Won’t Churn Your Stomach” misrepresented two major issues, namely the protein composition of regular milk and the main outcome of the research paper.
In a letter to the editors of the newspapers, Dairy UK and The Dairy Council pointed out that most milk consumed in Europe contains a mixture of both A1 and A2 beta-casein proteins. However, the study carried out by a team of researchers at an Australian University used milk that contained exclusively A1 or A2 with a concentration of A1 significantly higher than that found in regular British milk. This meant that the A1 product analysed in the study was not representative of drinking milk available in the UK and that findings based on this analysis would not be relevant for British consumers.
The study also underlined a difference in ratings of stool consistency between the A1 and A2 groups. However, both groups remained between 3 and 4 on the Bristol Stool Scale – a scale going from 1 to 7 with ratings between 3 and 4 being perfectly normal. Although the difference between both groups may have been significant from a statistical point view, it bore no clinical relevance, a fact blatantly overlooked by both articles. Similarly, this research study showed no significant difference in stool frequency, bloating, abdominal pain and gut inflammation between the A1 and A2 groups.
On Wednesday, one of the authors took part in a radio show in Northern Ireland to discuss the findings of the study. Dairy UK and The Dairy Council were concerned to hear the author promote A2 with a number of erroneous statements suggesting that all milk on sale in the UK not branded as A2 was purely A1. In addition, she went on to engage in speculation over hypothetical links between ‘dairy intolerance’ in adults and in babies and the alleged benefits of A2 milk.
Unfortunately, the author also failed to correct the journalist who referred to ‘dairy intolerance’ and ‘milk intolerance’ several times. With many misconceptions around dairy nutrition and lactose intolerance often being presented as facts by consumer press and television, it is disheartening to see experts pass on an opportunity to address these misconceptions. A transcript of the interview with a rebuttal of the arguments will be available from Dairy UK in the coming days.
The dairy industry is fully committed to educating consumers, health professionals, parliamentarians and the media on the nutritional benefits of milk and dairy and makes every effort to dispel common myths about dairy. At a time when the sector is working hard to highlight how dairy makes a difference to public health, it is regrettable that confusion has been added to the public debate and it is important to remind consumers that milk is a nutritious product.