Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A2 Milk Update: Warning to LI Readers

A2 milk is milk that contains more of the A2 beta casein protein. This raises the possibility that people with casein allergies to regular cow's milk might have lessened reactions. Developed in New Zealand and Australia, The original Foods Company started marketing A2 milk through Hy-Vee stores in the midwest, as I reported in A2 Milk Hits America.

Only the protein content of the milk has changed, so I was horrified to read Nebraska Farm Produces Milk For Lactose Intolerant, which Omaha ABC affiliate KETV sent out as a press release and was picked up by dozens of websites.

A Nebraska farm has made a breakthrough in providing milk for the lactose intolerant.

Studies suggest that more 30 million Americans are lactose intolerant, but some Firth dairy farmers said they have a product that many of those people will be able to digest.

It's called A-2 milk, and is made by special cows that produce a unique kind of protein. These cows are pinpointed through DNA testing. About 30 percent of the animals produce the protein exclusively.

The mistake does not appear to be a reporting error on the part of the station as I first believed. Amazingly, a spokesman for The Original Foods Company makes the lactose intolerance claim on the video news segment that first reported the piece.

I know of absolutely nothing in any of the claims or studies about A2 milk that would justify telling people with lactose intolerance that they can tolerate this milk better in any way than any other cow's milk. Its lactose content is presumably identical. I am warning people in the strongest possible terms not to believe this claim.

The home site of A2 milk, says straightforwardly:
Q. Does A2 Milk™ contain Lactose?
A. Yes, A2 Milk™ contains Lactose.

The only evidence I can find for the effect A2 milk has on lactose intolerance is anecdotal, from a question and answer forum on, an Australian television network that is nor affiliated with the U.S. network ABC. Dr Corrie McLachlan, chief executive of the A2 Corporation, was a panelist on a show about A2 milk, and later wrote in an online Q and A session:
Interestingly we have had in e-mails from several mothers whose children are allergic to milk or lactose intolerant. They had no such effects with A2 milk.


We also have evidence coming in that what is called lactose intolerance may be associated with A1 protein rather than lactose.

He provides no substance for this astonishing claim. I'm not surprised because I have never heard this claim before. It would contradict every piece of medical evidence we have about the etiology (cause) of lactose intolerance.

Despite repeating the claim several times, Dr. McLachlan's words are not even backed up by the website of A2 milk's official Australian licensee, Fairbrae Farms:
It does however appear quite likely, that many people who have previously been diagnosed as lactose intolerant may actually have been protein intolerant, in particular, to a1 beta casein.

This is certainly a possible mistake of diagnosis, as it is easy to mistake the gastrointestinal effects of a milk protein allergy for the gastrointestinal effects of lactose intolerance. I know of no study that suggests how widespread a mistaken diagnosis, or belief in the case of self-diagnosis, this might be, but it is possible. It is not, however, in any way the same claim made by Dr. McLachlan.

I must note that the online forum I referred to above took place in 2003. Since that time Dr. McLachlan has died from cancer and can no longer defend his words. However, in those four years apparently not a single other source has emerged in the medical literature that would give credence to his claim that lactose intolerance is caused by protein, or that A2 milk is well-tolerated by those with lactose intolerance.

Please approach A2 milk with the caution you would any other milk. Until and unless proven otherwise, A2 milk is a source of as much lactose as any other milk and should be treated - or avoided - accordingly.

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Anonymous said...

I think that you find that most people who claim to be LI are not, but have self diagnosed themselves LI and actually still have enough lactase enzyme in their guts to digest lactose. People say they are LI when in fact they suffer from gastric discomfort or IBS, which they link to consuming dairy.

Steve Carper said...

It could be, but the problem is that we have no good statistics at all on the question.

Unknown said...


With regard to the comment about lactose intolerace, I know that Dad (Corrie Mclachlan) suffered from severe stomach upsets (stomach cramps, diarrhea) when he consumed dairy products (especially cream and icecream) - and was startled/fascinated to notice that when he reluctantly tried A2 icecream when it was first being marketed in Australia, he did not get any kind of stomach upset.

He mentioned that he had reports from some people who said they were lactose intolerant saying they could consume a2 milk - but I don't believe Dad ever claimed outright that a2 was a definite solution to lactose intolerance.

He mentioned these sorts of reports from people - because he was only ever interested that further research be done.

It was to his great frustration that there was so much debate about politics and agenda - rather than the focus being on solving the science. Dad applied for research grants many times - and mortgaged his house so that he could review the science properly. He was an extraordinary man with a lot of integrity - and I admire him very much.

It is 15 years since he noticed the correlation between a1 beta casein consumption and heart disease - and with more than 100 papers, and many animal experiments showing that there is a good case for the a1 theory - it seems incredible to me that no human trials have been demanded by any government.

Jules (Julia) McLachlan