Butter expert group named

The group consists of nutrition, animal health and food science experts and will set its own scope

Dairy farmers have fed palm fats to cows on an off depending on several factors, for about 20 years.

A working group of cross-Canadian experts has been named to look into the concerns about the use of palm fat and its effect on butter quality.

The 13 members of the working group include experts in nutrition, both human and dairy cow, fatty acids and their composition, along with milk handling.

Why it matters: Concern expressed by consumers about the hardness of Canadian butter and the link the feeding of palm fats became news around the world.

“The working group will set the scope of its work, not industry associations, and will follow the science wherever it may lead, so that consumers can have the utmost confidence in our work,” says Daniel Lefebvre, chief operating officer of Lactanet and chair of the group.

The working group will cover a wide range of topics including:

• Confirm whether there are or have been changes in the characteristics of butter,

• Review the literature to assess current science as it relates to Feeding of palm fat supplements to cows, milk composition, milk handling and processing techniques; and health and safety of supplements (palm),

• Identify any gaps in data or research,

• Review of the level of sustainability of various types of palm fat supplements, including by-products, and

• Assessment of role and nutritional value of palm fat supplements for dairy cows.

Working group members include:

  • Daniel Lefebvre, of Lactanet,
  • Anthony Hanley, nutritional sciences professor from the University of Toronto,
  • Richard Bazinet, nutritional sciences professor from the University of Toronto,
  • David Kelton, department of population medicine, University of Guelph,
  • Rachel Gervais, department of animal science, Université Laval,
  • Yves Pouliot, department of food sciences, Université Laval,
  • Jean-Francois Ménard, life cycle analysis expert,
  • Elaine Scott, Consumers’ Association of Canada,
  • Mathieu Frigon, president and CEO of the Dairy Processors Association of Canada,
  • Ed Friesen, DFC board member and dairy farmer from Manitoba,
  • Bita Farhang, research and development manager, Dairy Farmers of Ontario,
  • Woody Siemens, BC Milk Marketing Board,
  • Chantal Fleury, assistant director of economic research, Quebec Milk Producers.

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