a2 - letter to editor

Wednesday, 25 June

RE: 'Evidence shows Michael Gove is wrong on milk for pupils'

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to an article published this week by Dr Justine Butler criticising the government’s new legislation that will make offering milk to children compulsory in schools from January. As a practising nutritionist, I felt it important to challenge some of the points raised by Dr Butler.

The piece suggests that soya milk, fruit juices and water are healthier alternatives to cows’ milk. However, cows’ milk has an irreplaceable package of nutrients that cannot be found in any other single food or beverage and has much higher levels of calcium, protein, phosphorous and magnesium than unfortified alternatives, juices or water.


Secondly, Dr Butler also suggests there’s a link between cows’ milk and teenage acne. Science does not support links between acne and dairy, and total avoidance may compromise the intakes of essential nutrients.  It’s mainly teenage girls and young women who suffer from acne, the same group who the government has found deficient in calcium and iodine.  The thinking behind this link between acne and milk is that naturally occurring hormones in milk cause an excess of sebum causing spots, but it’s most likely because of an excess of human hormones which are much more abundant than bovine hormones.

And finally, the reference to cows’ milk triggering digestive problems may well be linked to the protein in milk, rather than cows’ milk generally. Cows’ milk contains several proteins including A1 and A2. A1 protein digests differently to A2 protein and has been linked to discomfort after drinking milk. Some people may, in fact, be reacting to this specific A1 protein, rather than lactose or other general milk proteins, as is commonly assumed.  a2 Milk contains only the A2 protein and no A1. Therefore it may be a solution for those suffering the effects of regular cows’ milk.

As a health care practitioner and an advocator of dairy, I strongly welcome the new legislation seeing it as a positive move in tackling unhealthy diet habits, and promoting the importance of milk in a child’s diet.


Kind regards,


Melanie Bibby,

Nutrition Manager, The a2 Milk Company


About Melanie Bibby:

  • Melanie is a Registered Nutritionist and a member of the Nutrition Society.
  • Melanie has worked as a consultant for various international companies including CA Technologies, Slimavite and Pfizer amongst others, offering a wide range of nutritional service including menu analysis, proof reading commercial nutritional copy, writing papers for publication and answering questions from the public. 
  • In addition, Melanie has been a regular guest nutrition expert on various local radio stations.
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