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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sheep's Milk - Less Lactose?

Slim Ewe is not a user id on MySpace, a curseword on the Sopranos, or the winner of Nashville Idol. It's the latest fad form of dairy, ice cream made from whole sheep's milk.

Nutraingredients.com featured Jess Halliday's article, The healthy potential of sheep’s milk, on David Baker, owner of Styles Farm in the sourthwest of England, who's been making ice cream from sheep's milk for the past 18 years.

So why is this of interest to us? Because of the usual nutty claim.

According to market analyst Mintel, non-cow milks (sheep and goat) currently have a 0.8 per cent share of the white milk market value. The market is growing – but not so much because of the healthy profile (indeed the higher fat content of the milk is a drawback) but because of lower lactose content than cow's milk, making it more suitable for people with a perceived intolerance.


Of course, the article provides nothing to back up the claim that non-cow milks have a lower lactose content than cow's milk. If you want facts about milk, the first place to look is, that's right, my web site. My Lactose Zoo page gives average lactose content for over 30 animal milks.

    Cow 3.7-5.1%


    Goat 4.1-4.7%


    Sheep 4.6-5.4%



Even if you assume – correctly – that most cow's milk is at the higher end of the scale and sheep's milk is at the lower end, the difference is a few tenths of a percentage point at most. Not enough to make any noticeable difference in anyone's symptoms.

Your ability to have Slim Ewe will be almost exactly that of your ability to have cow's milk ice cream. You shouldn't feel any difference in lactose content.

But the claims just keep on comin'.

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