A2 milk

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A2 milk is cow's milk that contains only the A2 type of beta-casein protein rather than the more common A1 protein commonly found in regular milk. A2 milk is branded by the A2 Milk Company and sold mostly in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

While the company marketing A2 milk claims that milk containing A1 proteins are harmful, there is no scientific evidence that A2 milk has benefits over normal milk.[1]

A1 and A2 beta-casein are genetic variants of the beta-casein milk protein that differ by one amino acid. The A1 beta-casein type is the most common type found in cow's milk in Europe (excluding France), the USA, Australia and New Zealand. A genetic test, developed by the A2 Milk Company, determines whether a cow produces the A2 or A1 type protein in its milk. The test allows the A2 Milk Company to give licenses to milk producers once these producers prove their cows produce only A2 beta-casein protein in their milk, to the exclusion of the A1 beta-casein protein type.

Background[edit]

Cows' milk is about 87 percent water and 13 percent solids—the solids being a combination of fat, carbohydrates in the form of lactose, minerals and protein. The major component of the milk proteins is casein; in turn about 30-35 percent of the casein (equivalent to two teaspoons in a litre of milk) is beta-casein, of which there are several varieties, determined by the genes of the cow. The most common of these variants are A1 and A2 (named for the order in which they were identified by scientists), with the sole difference between the two being one of the 209 amino acids that make up the beta-casein proteins: a proline occurs at position 67 in the chain of amino acids that make up the A2 beta-casein, while in A1 beta-casein a histidine occurs at that position. Studies in cells found that digestive enzymes that cut up proteins interact with beta-casein precisely at that location, so that A1 and A2 beta-casein proteins are processed differently. A seven-amino peptide, beta-casomorphin-7, (BCM-7) can be cut away from the A1-beta-casein protein by those enzymes, but the enzymes cannot cut the A2 protein at that location, so BCM-7 is not formed from A2 proteins.[2] Studies in humans have not consistently found that BCM-7 is formed in the human digestive system.[3] BCM-7 can also be created during the fermentation of milk or through the process by which cheese is made; those same processes can also destroy BCM-7.[1]

Scientists believe the difference originated as a mutation that occurred between 5000 and 10,000 years ago—as cattle were being taken north into Europe—when the proline at position 67 was replaced by histidine, with the mutation subsequently spreading widely throughout herds in the western world through breeding.[2][4]

The prevalence of the A1 and A2 beta-casein protein varies between herds of cattle, and also between countries and provinces. While African and Asian cattle continue to produce only A2 beta-casein, the A1 version of the protein is common among cattle in the western world.[2] The A1 beta-casein type is the most common type found in cow's milk in Europe (excluding France), the USA, Australia and New Zealand.[1]:20 On average, more than 70 percent of Guernsey cows produce A2 milk, while among Holsteins and Ayrshires between 46 and 70 percent produce A1 milk.[5]

Health effects[edit]

Beginning in the 1980s, some medical researchers began to explore whether some peptides (including peptides from casein) that are created during digestion might have negative[6] or positive health effects.[1]

Interest in the distinction between A1 and A2 beta-casein proteins began in the early 1990s via epidemiological research and animal studies initially conducted by scientists in New Zealand, which found correlations between the prevalence of milk with A1 beta-casein proteins in some countries and the prevalence of various chronic diseases in those countries.[2] The research generated interest in the media, among some in the scientific community, and entrepreneurs.[2] If it were indeed true that BCM-7 was harming humans, this would have been an immensely important public health issue, as well as a huge commercial opportunity.[2]

A company, A2 Corporation, was founded in New Zealand in 2000 to commercialise a genetic test to determine whether a cow will produce milk without the A1 protein, and to market "A2 Milk" as a premium milk that is less risky due to the lack of peptides from A1.[2][7][8] In 2003, A2's website said: "Beta casein A1 may be a primary risk factor for heart disease in adult men, and also be involved in the progression of insulin-dependent diabetes in children" and the CEO had linked A1 to schizophrenia and autism.[9] A2 Corporation even petitioned the Food Standards Australia New Zealand regulatory authority to require a health warning on ordinary milk.[2]

Responding to public interest, the marketing of A2 milk, and the scientific evidence that had been published, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reviewed the scientific literature and published a review in 2009. As part of their evaluation, the EFSA looked closely at the laboratory studies that have been done on BCM-7. They found that experiments in cells and animals have shown that BCM-7 can act as a weak opioid receptor agonist, but that in most of the animal studies, BCM-7 was not administered orally, as humans would be exposed to it, but rather was given to animals by injection into the peritoneal cavity or even directly into the spinal cord or brain, which makes these studies not useful for understanding how BCM-7 might affect humans.[1] The EFSA also found no relationship between chronic diseases and drinking milk with the A1 protein.[1] The EFSA study emphasized the dangers of drawing conclusions from correlations identified in epidemiological studies and the dangers of not reviewing all the evidence at hand.[1] A 2009 review found no demonstration that consuming milk with A1 casein causes diabetes.[3] A 2014 review of research into the relationship between consumption of dairy products (including A1 and A2 proteins) and the incidence of diabetes found that while there appears to be a positive correlation between consumption of dairy products by babies and the incidence of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in some people, and an inverse relationship between the consumption of dairy products and the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in some people, these correlations are tentative, it is impossible to determine what component or components of milk might be responsible for these effects, and it is unlikely that the expensive and complex research to determine the answers to these questions will ever be conducted.[10]

Statements linking A1 beta-casein with diabetes, coronary heart disease, autism and schizophrenia have been labelled as "irresponsible" by Australian nutritionist Rosemary Stanton, who doubts the health benefits of A2 milk. She also raised questions about the reliability of peer-reviewed research undertaken by Curtin University, and paid for by A2 Milk, which found A2 milk could be easier to digest than regular cow milk.[11]

A2 milk is not a milk substitute for infants with cow milk protein allergies.[12]

Commercial production and sale[edit]

A2 Corporation was founded in New Zealand in 2000 by one of the scientists researching health effects of A1 beta-casein. A co-founder was Howard Paterson, one of New Zealand's richest men, one of the biggest dairy farmers in New Zealand, and an important stakeholder in Fonterra, a dairy cooperative.[7][8] A2 Corporation licensed patents filed in the 1990s by the New Zealand Dairy Board, and filed its own patents on genetic tests to determine what form of beta-casein cows produce in milk, and concerning potential adverse health consequences of A1 milk.[2][7][13][14]

By 2012 A2 had developed a worldwide suite of intellectual property to protect its business, including trademarks, trade secrets, and patents covering the genetic test and methods to develop A2 producing herds, as well as methods to check the protein content and fatty acid content of milk, dietary supplements with A2 beta-casein, and even therapeutic uses of A2.[15]

Australia, New Zealand[edit]

A2 milk on sale in Australia

A2 Corporation was founded in New Zealand in 2000 and focused its initial efforts on urging farmers to undertake breeding programs to develop herds that would produce only A2 milk.[16] However the launch of A2 milk was delayed by opposition from Fonterra, which had contracts with about 98% of New Zealand dairy farms. These contracts were protected under New Zealand law by the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act of 2001.[9][17] Seeking leverage in the battle with Fonterra over access to farmers, and over patent rights,[7] Howard Paterson, the CEO of A2 Corporation, led the company into litigation against Fonterra, asking the New Zealand High Court to order Fonterra to put health warnings on its conventional milk concerning risks of type 1 diabetes, heart disease, autism and schizophrenia due to the presence of A1 beta-casein, and to force Fonterra to publicly disclose all the information it had about the links between A1 beta-casein and health risks.[18] The litigation threatened New Zealand's economy and international reputation as at the time Fonterra was responsible for 20% of New Zealand's exports.[18] The press over the litigation and public concern over the claims of A2 Corporation led the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and the Ministry of Health and the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand to issue reports and statements confirming the safety of conventional milk.[7][19][20]

A2 Corporation was able to obtain agreements with enough dairy farmers to launch A2 milk in New Zealand at the end of April, 2003.[9][21] In the middle of 2003, both founders of the company died. In July, Paterson was found dead in his hotel room during a business trip at the age of 50,[22] and a month later Dr Corran McLachlan died of cancer at the age of 59.[23] In New Zealand it is illegal to make health claims about a food product without providing scientific evidence and registering the food as a medicine, and in November 2003 the New Zealand Commerce Commission advised that A2 Corporation Ltd and its licensed A2 producers had agreed to amend the health claims in their promotional material following a warning from the commission.[24][25] By end of 2003 the weakened A2 Corporation[26] had withdrawn the litigation against Fonterra and negotiations had resumed.[23]

Meanwhile, A2 milk was first marketed anywhere in the world in March 2003 in Australia by a family dairy farm unaffiliated with A2 Corporation run by the Denniston family.[16] Shortly thereafter, an Australian company called A2 Dairy Marketers licensed patent rights and the A2 trademark from A2 Corporation and started offering Australian dairy farmers a premium price for their milk, if it was shown to be pure A2.[16] The Dennistons and A2 Dairy Marketers marketed A2 milk boldly, touting its safety and the dangers of A1 milk. However, Australian laws forbid companies from making misleading health claims about food, and in September 2004, A2 Dairy Marketers in Australia was fined $15,000 after it pleaded guilty to six breaches of those laws.[9][24][27][28] The company, which had had been in a tenuous financial situation since beginning trading in May, went into administration in October[28] and was liquidated in November, owing farmers and processors tens of thousands of dollars.[16][28] A $1.27 million federal government grant awarded to the company in August as part of the Regional Partnerships Program was also cancelled.[29] A2 Corporation set up a new subsidiary and licensee, A2 Australia, to market and produce its product. A2 Australia established new contracts with the dairy farmers who had A2 herds, promising better payment terms—a week in advance instead of once per month, after shipment.[16]

In December, A2 Corporation sold its interests in A2 Australia to Fraser & Neave, food marketing giant in Asian markets, for about $1.1 million. A2 Corporation had lost about $1.3 million for 2004, the same as it has lost the year before; the sale allowed A2 Corporation to rely on Fraser & Neave to build the Australian and Asian businesses.[30] A2 focused on recovering from the deaths of its founders organizationally and financially, relied on its New Zealand licensees to develop the New Zealand market, and turned its focus to developing overseas markets.[26][30]

As A2 grew its business, opposition to A2 Corporation's claims played out in the media. Dairy Australia, the national association of the Australian dairy industry, and market competitors like Parmalat have consistently said that there is no evidence to suggest A1 proteins are dangerous and have warned that criticism of normal milk is damaging the entire dairy industry.[16][31][32][33][34]

In 2006, A2 Corporation was on sound enough footing to buy back A2 Australia from Fraser & Neave.[26] In 2006, it lost about $1 million, after having lost $9 million the year before, but revenues had approximately doubled.[26] In that year it warned shareholders not to expect profit for another three years.[16]

Publication of a book, "Devil in the Milk" by Keith Woodford, about A1 beta-casein and its perceived dangers to health, boosted sales of A2 milk in Australia and New Zealand[35] and prompted the New Zealand Food Safety Authority to propose again reviewing the science to address consumer concerns that A1 milk might be harmful.[20] It asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to undertake such a review.[36][37] The EFSA report, released in 2009, found 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”.[1][37]

Commercial development proceeded, and by 2010 some 40 million litres of A2 milk was being produced by 12,000 A2-certified cows across Australia, with milk processed at four plants in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland,[38] and yoghurt made with A2 milk went on the market in Australia in April 2010.[39]

In February 2011 A2 Corporation announced it had a made a profit over a half-year for the first time; in the six months ending December 31, 2010, it made a net $894,000, or 17 cents/share.[40] In December 2012 A2 Corporation announced it would attempt to raise $20 million and list on the New Zealand Stock Exchange main board,[41] and that it would use the funds to grow its Chinese infant formula and UK milk businesses. It listed in March 2013.[42]

A2 launched an infant formula in New Zealand and Australia in September 2013[39] and A2 thickened cream was launched in January 2014.[43]

A2 Corporation changed its name to The a2 Milk Company Limited effective April 2014, and at that time had about 8% market share of the milk products market in Australia.[44][45]

In 2014 Lion, a beverage and food company that operates in Australia and New Zealand and is owned by Kirin, relaunched their "Pura" milk product with a new label stating: "Naturally contains A2 protein."[33][45][46][47]

A2 Milk Company announced in November 2014 that it had begun the application process for a dual listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in a bid to open its register to Australian investors and boost the liquidity of its shares. The company said it expected a listing to be completed by March 2015.[48]

United States[edit]

In August 2003, as part of a new focus on overseas markets following the death of its founders, A2 Corporation exclusively licensed patent and trademark rights to US-based Ideasphere Incorporated (ISI) to market A2 milk products in North America. ISI had paid A2 $500,000 in license fees by the end of 2004.[49] ISI acquired Twinlab in September 2003, followed by another string of acquisitions in the dietary supplement market.[50] In June 2005, ISI and A2 agreed to form a joint venture, A2 Milk Company LLC; A2 invested $400,000 and ISI assigned the license agreement to the new company.[51]

In April 2007 A2 Corporation announced a deal in which the joint venture would license rights to the Original Foods Company, whose branding the A2 milk product would carry, and in which the product would be sold in several midwestern states through the Hy-Vee supermarket chain.[52]

In A2 Corporation's 2009 Annual Report, the company announced that the joint venture had regained all rights to the US market through a settlement with the Original Foods Company, and that "The US dairy milk market remains intensely competitive and continues to be a major challenge."[53] In 2010 A2 Corporation bought out all but less than 1% of ISI's share in the joint venture.[54]

United Kingdom[edit]

A2 Corporation formed a joint venture with a major British milk supplier, Müller Wiseman Dairies, in November 2011 to process, market and sell its A2 milk products in Britain and Ireland.[55] In June 2014 a2 Milk Company reported it had 20 dedicated farms supplying milk for processing in the UK.[56] In its first year the milk recorded ₤1 million in sales through 1000 stores.[57] On 1 January 2014, The a2 Milk company exited its joint venture with Müller Wiseman Dairies by acquiring MWD's stake stake for a “nominal” amount.[58]

China[edit]

The first consignments of A2's infant formulas were sent to China in 2013.[59][60] Shipments were interrupted for two months starting in April 2014 when the Chinese government introduced strict new import regulations for infant formula in response to the 2008 Chinese milk scandal in which more than 300,000 infants were poisoned by contaminated milk formula.[61][62]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h 1 February 2009, EFSA review of scientific literature on A1 and A2 milk, Review of the potential health impact of β-casomorphins and related peptides
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Truswell, A.S. (2005), "The A2 milk case: a critical review", European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 59: 623–631, doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602104, retrieved 29 June 2014 
  3. ^ a b Clemens RA. Milk A1 and A2 peptides and diabetes. Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2011;67:187-95. doi: 10.1159/000325584. Epub 2011 Feb 16. PMID 21335999
  4. ^ Swinburn, Boyd (13 July 2004). "Beta casein A1 and A2 in milk and human health" (PDF). Report to New Zealand Food Safety Authority. 
  5. ^ "The A-B-C of milk" (Press release). Dairy Australia. 21 April 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  6. ^ Millward, C; Ferriter, M; Calver, S; Connell-Jones, G (2008). Ferriter, Michael, ed. "Gluten- and casein-free diets for autistic spectrum disorder". Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (2): CD003498. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003498.pub3. PMID 18425890. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 31 March 2003 Transcript of "White Mischief", an episode of Four Corners, an investigative journalism series.
  8. ^ a b Staff, New Zealand Herald. May 14, 2001 A2 protein milk supply on horizon
  9. ^ a b c d Staff, New Zealand Herald. Apr 28, 2003 A2 milk launched in NZ, outside Fonterra's structure
  10. ^ Lacroix IM, Li-Chan EC. Investigation of the putative associations between dairy consumption and incidence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(4):411-32. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.587039. PMID 24236995
  11. ^ Lynch, Jared (10 September 2014). "Leading nutritionist Rosemary Stanton questions a2 Milk's health claims". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 February 2015. 
  12. ^ Kemp AS, Hill DJ, Allen KJ, Anderson K, Davidson GP, Day AS et al. (2008). "Guidelines for the use of infant formulas to treat cows milk protein allergy: an Australian consensus panel opinion.". Med J Aust 188 (2): 109–12. PMID 18205586. 
  13. ^ EP0789842A1 Google patents
  14. ^ Philippa Stevenson for the New Zealand Herald. Dec 21, 2000 A2 Corp pays $8m for milk patent rights
  15. ^ Geoffrey Babidge, Managing Director & CEO of A2 Corp. April 2012 A2 Corporation Presentation
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Courtney, Pip (6 August 2006). "The A2 milk story". Landline. ABC Television. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  17. ^ Penny Smith for Just-food. 2 July 2003 A2 milk launched as controversy churns on
  18. ^ a b Deborah Hill Cone for Share Chat 1st November 2002 A2 accuses dairy giant of suppressing milk defects Quote: "The lawsuit risks inflicting catastrophic damage to New Zealand's international reputation and foreign earnings as Fonterra turns over $14 billion and makes 20% of the country's total offshore receipts. As if that would not be enough of a PR disaster as the country tries to maintain its position as a clean, green food producer...."
  19. ^ Supporting documents for "White Mischief" story
  20. ^ a b Office of the Minister of Food Safety, New Zealand Food Safety Authority. 27 November 2007 A1-A2 Milk: Arrangements for Upcoming Reviews
  21. ^ New Zealand Stock Exchange. a2 Milk Company Overview
  22. ^ Staff, New Zealand Herald. Jul 5, 2003 Obituary: Howard Paterson
  23. ^ a b A2 Corporation A2 Annual Report for Year Ending March 2003. Note: Report was apparently published at the end of 2003
  24. ^ a b "A2 milk licensee fined in Australia over therapeutic claim". The New Zealand Herald (Auckland). 4 October 2004. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  25. ^ Stuart A. Slorach, "Food safety risk management in New Zealand,", page 14.
  26. ^ a b c d Louise Thomas for Unlimited. 26 November 2006. The A2 difference
  27. ^ "Milk marketer fined for A2 health claims". The Courier-Mail (Brisbane). 30 September 2004. p. 8. 
  28. ^ a b c Shelley Lloyd for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 17 November 2004 A2 milk liquidates
  29. ^ Australian Senate finance and public administration references committee report on Regional Partnerships and Sustainable Regions programs, October 2005, pages xiv, 97-100
  30. ^ a b Ellen Read for the New Zealand Herald. Dec 30, 2004 Quick sale likely for A2 Corp
  31. ^ Hunt, Peter (24 March 2010), "A2 attacks milk", The Weekly Times (Melbourne): 3 
  32. ^ Smith, Simone (21 April 2010), "It's a matter of genetics", The Weekly Times (Melbourne): 107 
  33. ^ a b Hawthorne, Mark (24 May 2014). "Rival watering down A2 Milk claims". The Age (Melbourne). pp. 8, 28–29. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  34. ^ Binsted, Tim (18 March 2014), "Parmalat boss hits out at A2", Australian Financial Review: 8 
  35. ^ A2 Corporation Press Release, November 2007. A2 Milk™ Sales In NZ / Australia Increase Substantially
  36. ^ Stuart A. Slorach, "Food safety risk management in New Zealand,", page 6.
  37. ^ a b Sarah Hills for Food Navigator. 9 February 2009 EFSA reveals milk protein safety conclusions
  38. ^ Smith, Simone (21 April 2010), "It's a matter of genetics", Weekly Times (Melbourne): 107 
  39. ^ a b Adams, Christopher (10 September 2013). "A2 gets ready to launch baby formula". The New Zealand Herald (Auckland). Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  40. ^ A2 Corporation Press Release 18 February 2011 A2 Corp Declares a Maiden Profit
  41. ^ Georgina Bond for the National Business Review. December 05, 2012 A2 Corp sets sights on NZX with $20 million equity raising
  42. ^ Staff, The Headliner. 7 March 2013. A2 Corporation to Step Up
  43. ^ Langley, Sophie (17 March 2014). "A2 Corporation set to expand into North America". Ausfoodnews.com.au. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  44. ^ Press Release, A2 Corporation. 31 March 2014 A2 changes name
  45. ^ a b Adams, Christopher (7 June 2014). "Lion relaunch a bid to slow A2 growth". The New Zealand Herald (Auckland). Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  46. ^ "Protein punch in Pura form", The Advertiser (Adelaide), 26 May 2014: 11 
  47. ^ Hawthone, Mark (6 June 2014), "This means war ... in a milky way", The Age (Melbourne): 8, retrieved 27 June 2014 
  48. ^ Binsted, Tim (19 November 2014). "a2 milk to list in Australia". The Age (Melbourne). p. 28. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  49. ^ A2 Corporation A2 Corporation 2004 Annual Report
  50. ^ Staff, Engredea. Jul 3, 2005 Ideasphere Intends to Acquire Non-Ephedra Metabolife Assets
  51. ^ A2 Corporation A2 Corporation Half-Yearly Report for the half-year ending September 2005
  52. ^ Malcolm Burgess for the New Zealand Herald. Apr 25, 2007 A2 to tap into US milk market
  53. ^ A2 Corporation A2 Corporation Annual Report 2009
  54. ^ Liam Baldwin for National Business Review. October 05, 2010 A2 Corporation takes full control of US marketing arm
  55. ^ Ooi, Teresa (16 November 2011). "A2 deal has milk pouring into UK". The Australian. p. 41. 
  56. ^ "Our farmers". a2 Milk Company. Retrieved 9 July 2014. 
  57. ^ White, Anna (29 October 2013). "'Allergy-free' milk firm reaches ₤1m sales". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 9 July 2014. 
  58. ^ "Müller Exits a2 Venture". 
  59. ^ Adams, Christopher (22 April 2013). "New A2 infant formula ready for China". The New Zealand Herald (Auckland). Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  60. ^ Heathcote, Andrew (13 August 2013). "How the rise of A2 milk is adding millions to the fortune of Rich Lister Tony Perich". BRW (Sydney). Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  61. ^ Adams, Christopher (29 April 2014). "Pressure on exporters of baby formula". The New Zealand Herald (Auckland). Retrieved 9 July 2014. 
  62. ^ Metherell, Suze (22 July 2014). "A2 Milk gets Chinese export clearance". Herald Sun (Melbourne). Retrieved 25 July 2014. 

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