About a year after #buttergate took social media and mainstream media by storm, the working group tasked with investigating the issue has provided its conclusions and recommendations.
It’s unfortunate we can’t go back in time and track the fatty acid profile of milk, says working group chair and president of Lactanet, Daniel Lefebvre, but we can change the testing process going forward. Without that historical data, the working group could not find any evidence that Canadian butter consistency has changed over time. They did find, however, that there are varying levels of palmitic acid in milk and the butter made from it.
As Lefebvre explains in the audio below, it will be up to provincial marketing boards to add another layer of testing to the milk samples, to better quantify fatty acid profiles over time. The marketing boards are already in charge of sampling and testing, and it will be up to them to add any additional component tests, he notes.
Although the bulk of the working group’s research was analytical and reflective in nature, the working group did initiate and complete some additional testing of milk within the last year.
The findings were consistent with what was already understood, Lefebvre adds. Palmitic acid is the dominant fatty acid found in Canadian milk, regardless of what the cows were fed, and that there’s insufficient evidence to suggest that butter is more firm than previously. That’s partially due to that lack of time travel option, but also because fatty acid profile testing isn’t a set part of the testing regimen.
Lefebvre stresses that there is certainly some confusion about added palm oil byproducts to cow rations and the level of palmitic acid in milk and butter, because they share a similar name. But it should be made clear that palmitic acid occurs in milk without palm byproducts in the ration. It’s also found in varying quantities in milk and butter across the country, the working group determined.