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A2 milk's backers are refusing to lie down despite the government announcing yesterday that it backs a European Food Safety Authority report dismissing A1’s alleged links to disease.
Minister for Food Safety Kate Wilkinson announced yesterday that the government is taking the European Food Safety Authority report as the final say on the matter.
“The EFSA review is considered definitive and it found that there was no need for a risk assessment of the safety of A1 milk,” Ms Wilkinson said.
The A1/A2 milk issue stemmed from research that seemed to prove causality between a protein in A1 milk, which comes predominantly from Friesian cows, and links to diabetes, heart disease, autism and schizophrenia in people with immune deficiencies.
The previous New Zealand Food Safety administration had agreed to assemble an expert panel to discuss the EFSA report upon its release.
The expert panel would have cost about $60,000 to convene, she said.
Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University Dr Keith Woodford’s wrote a book “The Devil in the Milk” summarised some 100 scientific studies, which lead to a dairy war that conceivably could’ve seen the world’s 300 million plus dairy herd changed to A2.
Dr Woodford believes that the EFSA report result was a foregone conclusion, and he is not surprised at the result, nor the government’s response.
“There are many misstatements within the cabinet paper, presumably supplied by NZFSA. This includes that supposedly all parties agreed that the EFSA findings would be definitive. In fact, the EFSA findings were inevitable given the very narrow terms of reference that were chosen,” Dr Woodford said.
A2 Corporation, the NZX listed company set up to test, produce and sell A2 milk also has issues with the nature of the test.
Dr Andrew Clarke believes that the NZFSA moved to bury the issue well before the EFSA even started their review.
“The EFSA review stemmed from identified shortcomings in NZFSA handling of the issue previously so their recommendation to the incoming Government is not surprising,” he said.
Dr Woodford, and the directors of A2 Corporation believe that New Zealand has been missing a huge business opportunity.
A2 milk is now available in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets in all Australian mainland states, and sells well premium prices – a situation far removed from New Zealand where the product is hard to source.
A2 executive director David Mair, who started with the company in October, says that A2 Corporation has been guilty in the past of focusing too much on A1’s demons, rather than A2’s benefits.
Battling with Fonterra, New Zealand’s largest company and which still has a predominantly A1 herd, hasn’t helped the company.
He claims that the company’s product has seen benefits to the lactose intolerant and other conditions that can’t normally drink milk, that it has a creamier taste profile.
Dr Clark, Dr Woodford and Mr Mair are disappointed that the NZ government has concluded no further research is required, but remain confident that international studies will clear up the issue.
Last week research that fills some gaps identified by EFSA was presented at a heart disease symposium in Boston by European researchers.
“It is very important that the public do not interpret this situation as meaning that the science is settled in relation to A1 and A2. It is not,” Dr Woodford said.