Milk: Get Your Facts Right!
Milk has been regarded as one of the most nutritious beverages of all times. This is the reason that mothers are extremely particular about the daily milk consumption of their kids. There is an inherent preference of mothers towards milk, as they believe it to be extremely important for their children. Marketers leverage this emotional attachment to promote their brand of milk by claiming to have superior nutritional benefits. Is it possible for different types of milk to have different nutritional constituents? Today, let us get the food facts right on milk.
A1 vs A2 Milk – What is the matter?
This is one of the raging topics presently when it comes to choosing the most nutritious milk type. It is widely known that the breed of the cow from which the milk originated has a significant impact on the health benefits of the milk. At present, A2 milk is widely promoted as being the healthier option as compared to the standard A1 milk. The usual claim by the marketers promoting A2 milk is that it is easier to digest and has superior nutritional benefits. But is it really true? Let us analyze if there is actually any difference between A1 and A2 milk.
A1 and A2: Where do they come from?
Almost 80% of the total protein content in the milk is found in the form of different types of casein. One of the most abundant casein present in milk is beta-casein, which is present in thirteen different forms, A1 and A2 being the most abundant variants.
A1 beta-casein is abundant in milk from cows of Northern European breeds like Holstein.
A2 beta-casein is abundant in the milk from cows from Southern France like Jersey and Guernsey.
Do you know that while A2 milk contains only A2 Beta Casein, normal milk, i.e. A1 milk, in fact, contains both A2 and A1 beta-casein? As a result, there is an ongoing public debate regarding the superior nutritional benefits of A1 milk vs A2 milk. This debate has been fuelled by certain studies that claim A2 beta-casein to be a safer option as compared to A1 beta-casein.
FSSAI: What is the stand?
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, FSSAI is an important stakeholder in this entire debate. The Food Safety and Standards (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 do not recognize the classification of milk as A1 or A2 type. As a matter of fact, there is no mention of these types of milk in the regulations.
It is not as if FSSAI is oblivious to this matter. The matter pertaining to the superior nutritional benefits of A1 or A2 milk has been discussed several times by the scientific panel on milk and milk products. But due to lack of clinical research on the matter, FSSAI has not yet been able to release any conclusive verdict on the matter.
Marketers making hay
Due to lack of conclusive reports from FSSAI on the matter, a lot of claims have been doing rounds in the market regarding superior health benefits of A2 milk. Marketers are claiming that A2 milk offers better health benefits than the A1 milk and are therefore charging a premium price. They are conveniently hiding the fact that A1 milk, in fact, has the presence of both A1 and A2 beta-casein. Whatever reports are being used by them to support their claims are unsubstantiated. In most cases, the origins of the reports are doubtful, and the sample size is too small.
When the statutory authorities like FSSAI have been unable to determine the superiority of the A2 milk over A1 milk, how can the marketers claim the same? They need to support their claims with research studies with decent sample size. Till then, it is both unethical and misleading on their part to make claims about something which can not be established.
As a consumer, it is your right as well as your duty to ask questions. Do not believe in tall claims made by marketing companies without any scientific evidence. There is no doubt that milk is indeed one of the most nutritionally rich beverages out there. So, enjoy it without any worries and stop paying a premium price for “superior quality” milk, which is in fact no different from your regular milk.