A2 milk under attack in Australia

A2 milk under attack in AustraliaA2 milk is big in Australia. If you read the worldwide news looking for the keyword "milk," there's nearly always a discovery or benefit about A2 milk to be announced down-under. In the U.S., Guernsey breeders boast about the fact that their breed is highest in A2 percentage. If this is all foreign to you, Parmalat is hoping their latest advertising campaign keeps it that way.

A2 milk refers to milk containing the A2 beta-casein protein. There is also milk with the A1 beta-casein protein, and milk with both A1 and A2. A simple hair sample can tell in which of the three categories each cow fits. According to the American Guernsey Association, about 78% of Guernseys are type A2A2, while 20 percent are A1A2, and only 2 percent are A1A1. A website managed by the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA) shows that next in line are Brown Swiss, followed by Jersey and Milking Shorthorn (tied), and finally Holstein.

The book Devil in the Milk, by Keith Woodford, a New Zealand farm management professor, says that all European dairy breeds were originally part of the A2A2 group, until a mutation in an amino acid chains created subgroups A2, A3, B, and C. Humans, goats, and most mammals, according to the NODPA site, produce only A2 milk. Woodford's book details how the New Zealand Food Safety Authority misrepresented A2 science which doomed A2 milk in New Zealand, where the concept was invented.

According to proponents of A2 type milk, the A2 beta-casein protein assists with digestive wellbeing. The A2 milk company, Australia's seller of the product, says that over 100 scientific studies support the A2 story. But scientists lean more towards calling the results inconclusive. Australian consumers, meanwhile, have pushed the product from 0% of fresh milk sales in 2007, to 9% of sales today.

This is where the situation gets messy.

Parmalat campaign disputes science

Recent Australian news articles show that Parmalat hired a public relations firm to take down A2 milk. The same public relations company represents tobacco company Philip Morris and Australia's distilled spirits industry.

Several articles have run in Australian press that described A2 as snake oil, and reports have admitted that Parmalat's public relations firm was pushing the story. Meanwhile, Parmalat simultaneously re-launched its "Pauls Zymil" brand of lactose-free milk to compete for the same market.

The A2 brand has grown the overall milk market in Australia, so A2 Corporation CEO, Geoff Babidge, was stunned by the effort. He said in a recent article with Australia's Sydney Morning Herald, ''I was very surprised,'' Babidge said. ''We are milk producers. We provide a healthy product that is actually good for people. I just didn't think we were part of an industry that worked in this way.''

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald