Sue's Blog

When is A2 not really A2?

After years of insisting that A2 milk has no extra health benefits, Dairy Farmers in Australia have released their big new promotion Naturally contains A2 protein (accessed October 2015) - They have removed these claims from their labels.

For those who are wondering if this is the same as a2 brand milk , NO it is NOT.

Cows milk usually contains a mixture of A1 and A2 beta casein proteins, whereas a2  brand milk has been carefully produced to avoid A1 protein .

Compare the slogans & do the maths

  • Naturally contains A2 protein: contains up to 50% A1 protein, see Dairy Farmers website
  • Naturally A1 protein free: contains zero A1 protein, see a2 website


Conclusion: For those wishing to avoid A1 proteins, we recommend a2 brand milk, not Dairy Farmers. As Frillypants says on our facebook group:

“Bloody food labelling. It really is up to us to be smarter than them. Read the label and then read between the lines. And... and... don't be sucked in. Be cynical”

What’s wrong with A1 protein?

When we digest A1 beta-casein, it releases tiny protein fragments or peptides that can cause a range of adverse reactions. 

A1 beta-casein has been implicated in human health conditions such as type 1 diabetes, heart disease, mental health conditions, behaviour, child development, sudden infant death syndrome and  milk intolerances.

Alarmingly, a Polish study in 2011 showed that although human breast milk is A2, a problematic peptide in A1 milk can be transferred to the baby through breast milk if the mother has been drinking large amounts of A1 milk.  It’s a case study of a baby suffering from bouts of apnoea immediately after breast feeding. The mother herself realised that the apnoea occurred when she had been drinking large quantities of cow milk and tests of the baby’s blood found extremely high levels of the problematic bovine peptide.   This could account for why breastfeeding associations generally recommend that breastfeeding mothers should avoid dairy products if baby has gut or other problems.

In 2009, our Australian food regulators (FSANZ) decided there was no evidence for the adverse effects of A1 milk, thus passing on the opportunity to encourage the Australian dairy industry to switch to A2 milk. I bet they’re sorry now. With the huge market for dairy foods now opening up in China, it has become obvious that the Chinese – many of whom suffer from adverse reactions to A1 milk, just like many failsafers – prefer to buy goats or A1 protein-free cows milk and will pay twice as much for these products.  Australia’s entire dairy industry could be converted to produce 100% A2 milk within 2 cow generations, that’s about 14 years.  And they could have started a whole lot earlier – meaning heaps more profits for them - if they hadn’t ignored  Australian consumers when we said we could tolerate A2 milk. 

All milk was once A2, until a genetic mutation occurred thousands of years ago in some European cattle. A2 milk is high in herds in much of Asia, Africa, and parts of Southern Europe. A1 milk is common in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe.

Howard and I have recently returned to Australia after 3 months hiking nearly 1000 km in Europe on the Camino Primitivo in Spain, the Coast-to-Coast in England, and the French and Swiss Alps.  Among A2 milk researchers, Spain and France are famous for having naturally A2 milk - and exceptionally low rates of heart disease that is possibly related to their lack of A1 dairy foods.  Interestingly, when I am in Spain, I can tolerate the milk in coffee, yoghurt and beautiful Spanish dairy based desserts such as cuajada junket and arroz con leche rice pudding, but I cannot tolerate the big multinational ice-creams such as Magnums that are a product of Switzerland. However, in France, also supposed to have A2 milk and a low rate of heart disease, this time I reacted to cafe au lait. I wondered whether they may have been using coffee creamer type products. Anyway, after numerous reactions to French coffee, I chose to stick to black coffee and soymilk.

How ironic if all that is about to change. After years of denial, perhaps the prospect of millions of dairy intolerant Chinese consumers has convinced the dairy industry that A2 really is a healthier option.  As they say, follow the money …  

A final word of warning

Some cow breeds such as Jersey and Guernsey cows have traditionally produced predominantly A2 milk, but today they have to be tested and certified to be sure. You cannot buy Jersey milk and assume it is A2.

Further reading

Professor Keith Woodford's book Devil in the Milk

A1 milk passes through breast milk - Prof Woodford’s blog And for the full technical explanation see pages 39-40 of Devil in the Milk

Wasilewska J et al.  Cow's-milk-induced infant apnoea with increased serum content of bovine β-casomorphin-5   J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2011 Jun;52(6):772-5.

Latest key science on the human effects of A1 and A2 milk on Professor Woodford’s website

A2 milk website

Dairy farmers website Note: They have since removed the claim - original article: Choice slams Lion's new labelling of A2

Our factsheet

More reactions from this misleading advertising

Choice slams Lion's new A2 protein labelling on its Pura and Dairy Farmers milk as marketing 'spin'