A2 milk: sorting the facts

A2 milk has been available on the Australian market since March 2003. To date, there is no solid scientific evidence demonstrating that A2 milk is better for you than regular milk. As there is no food safety issue with either type of milk people are encouraged to keep drinking either A1 or A2 milk as a nutritious food.

Milk contains many proteins, one of which is called beta-casein. A1 and A2 are two common forms of beta-casein. Milk labelled as ‘A2 milk’ contains mainly the A2 type of beta-casein. The milk we currently buy in supermarkets and known as ‘regular milk’ contains a mixture of A2 and A1 beta casein (about 60% A2 and 40% A1).

Occasionally stories in the media suggest that the A1 beta-casein in regular milk triggers autism, schizophrenia, diabetes and heart disease.

The New Zealand Food Safety Authority commissioned a report to investigate these claims. Launching the report in August 2004, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority advised consumers to ‘keep drinking milk as a nutritious food, no matter whether it’s A1 or A2, as there is no food safety issue with either type of milk’.

In 2009, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) reported that there is still limited scientific evidence available on the health effects of both A1 and A2 milks and encouraged Australians to continue to regard milk as a safe and nutritious component of the diet for most people. To date, this recommendation has not changed.

The bottom line is that people have been drinking milk for at least 6,000 years. Research shows that milk is not only safe, but is also associated with a number of health benefits, from healthy bones and teeth, to assisting with weight control and also possibly helping to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Most of the milk people consume contains a mixture of A1 and A2 beta-casein.

Australians can have full confidence that milk remains the healthy nutritious food it always was.

Smart Eating Tips for Milk

  • Milk is a safe and healthy food to drink. Aim to have three serves of reduced- or low-fat dairy foods every day to ensure you meet your recommended dietary intake
  • A serve of dairy is equal to: 250ml milk, 200g yoghurt or 40g cheese
  • Cows’ milk is not suitable as the main drink for infants before 12 months of age
  • Reduced- and low-fat milks are not suitable for children under two years of age because of their increased needs for energy and fat soluble vitamins
  • There are many different types of milk to choose from to suit your individual needs and preferences.

If you don’t like milk or have a true cows’ milk allergy or intolerance, consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) to discuss other ways get enough dietary calcium and other essential nutrients.