What is A2 milk? How a Citrus County dairy farm is hoping to reintroduce milk to those with intolerance

You may have spotted A2 milk in the grocery store, but what exactly is it?

It's a milk that has a different protein called A2 casein, which is a different protein than normally found in milk, according to Renee Lafferman, a nutritionist with Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. Usually milk has a combination of what's called "A2" and "A1" casein protein, so A2 milk is developed to have just that A2 protein in a much higher amount, she said.  

"There are a lot of people now interested in this A2 milk, because they are intolerant of milk, meaning that they have some GI upsets so drinking regular milk gives them some gas, bloating and sometimes a whole host of GI discomfort," Lafferman said. "Children could benefit from trying this A2 milk. Milk is a good source of usually calcium in their diet."

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M&B Dairy in Lecanto is developing their own kind of A2 milk for kids. The farm provides milk to school districts in several states, including Florida. 

"A lot of people that think they're lactose intolerant are A1 protein intolerant, and we are evolving our herd into being an A2 only herd," said Dale McClellan, the president of M&B Products.

They test their cows for the A2 protein. 

"Cows can only have two types of protein, A1, A2 or a combination thereof," said Dale McClellan. "What we did was took a small skin sample out of every cow in the herd's ear and ran a DNA test on it, and you can tell by the results of the DNA test that those cows are either A1, A2 or a combination thereof. And our cows out of the gate were 32% A2-A2. So we had a pretty good jump."

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They've been working on a special strawberry milk for schools.

"We're going to add a lactose enzyme to it before we process it and package it and that should give you a completely A1 protein and lactose free milk," said Daniel McClellan, the operations manager of M&B Products. 

Dale McClellan said they want to come out with an A2 lactose-free flavored milk, so that all kids have an opportunity to drink milk

"We're going to try to reintroduce milk to the public through their children," said Dale McClellan.

Lafferman said there has been a decline in milk consumption

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"People have been drinking less dairy milk, specifically using plant based milks and all kinds of different products out there instead of drinking cow's milk, so I think this was a thought by the dairy industry to try to develop something that would be better tolerated by people," she said.

But some may be on the fence about trying it. Lafferman said a lot of people may not know whether it's the lactose or it's the protein that they're not able to digest, which is causing discomfort. 

"So I would recommend if you really don't know give this milk a try. You know try this A2 milk. Because you might in fact be sensitive to the protein, and you might not have even realize that," said Lafferman. 

"I think and hope that people don't go away from A1 milk because I'm doing this," Dale McClellan said. "There's only a small segment of society that has problems with milk and I hope they continue to drink milk as it is because it's fine. There's nothing wrong with it. But for those that are troubled with it we want to come up with that solution."