The Skim Milk Scam: Words of Wisdom From a Doctor Dairy Farmer

The skeptical cardiologist only consumes full fat dairy and recommends this to his patients.

Full fat dairy is associated with less abdominal fat, lower risk of diabetes and lower risk of developing vascular complications such as stroke and heart attack.
quart_whole_milk_yogurt-293x300I’ve been consuming  full fat yogurt and milk  from Trader’s Point Creamery in Zionsville, Indiana almost exclusively since visiting the farm and interviewing its owners a few years ago.

Dr. Peter(Fritz) Kunz, a plastic surgeon, and his wife Jane, began selling milk from their farm after researching methods for rotational grazing , a process which allows  the cows to be self-sustaining: the cows feed themselves by eating the grass and in turn help fertilize the fields,  . After a few years of making sure they had the right grasses and cows, the Kunz’s opened Traders Point Creamery in 2003.

Two more studies (summarized nicely on ConscienHealth, an obesity and health blog)  came out recently solidifying the extensive data supporting the health of dairy fat and challenging the nutritional dogma that all Americans should be consuming low-fat as opposed to full fat dairy.

The Dairy Industry’s Dirty Little Secret

Dr. Kunz opened my eyes to the dirty little secret of the dairy industry when i first talked to him: dairy farmers double their income by allowing milk to be split into its fat and non-fat portions therefore the industry has no motivation to promote full fat dairy over nonfat dairy.

Recently, I  presented him with a few follow-up questions to help me understand why we can’t reverse the bad nutritional advice to consume low-fat dairy.

Skeptical Cardiologist: “When we first spoke and I was beginning my investigation into dairy fat and cardiovascular disease you told me that most dairy producers are fine with the promotion of non fat or low fat dairy products because if consumers are choosing low fat or skim dairy this allows the dairy producer to profit from the skim milk production as well as the dairy fat that is separated and sold for butter, cheese or cream products.”
I  don’t have a clear idea of what the economics of this are. Do you think this, for example, doubles the profitability of a dairy?

Dr. Kunz:Yes, clearly. Butter, sour cream, and ice cream are highly profitable products… All these processes leave a lot of skim milk to deal with, and the best opportunity to sell skim milk is to diet-conscious and heart-conscious people who believe fat is bad.”

Skeptical Cardiologist:” I’ve been baffled by public health recommendations to consume low fat dairy as the science would suggest the opposite. The only reason I can see that this persists is that the Dairy Industry Lobby , for the reason I pointed out above, actually has a vested interest from a profitability standpoint in lobbying for the low fat dairy consumption.. Do you agree that this is what is going on? ”

 Dr. Kunz: “Yes, definitely. The obsession with low-fat as it relates to diet and cardiac health has been very cleverly marketed. Fat does NOT make you fat. 

Skeptical Cardiologist: “Also, I have had trouble finding out the process of production of skim milk. I’ve come across sites claiming that the process involves injection of various chemical agents but I can’t seem to find a reliable reference source on this. Do you have any information/undestanding of this process and what the down sides might be? I would like to be able to portray skim milk as a “processed food” which, more and more, we seem to be recognizing as bad for us.”

Dr. Kunz: “The PMO pasteurized milk ordinance states that when you remove fat you have to replace the fat soluble vitamins A & D. Apparently the Vitamin A & D have to be stabilized with a chemical compound to keep them miscible in basically an aqueous solution. The compound apparently contains MSG!! We were shocked to find this out and it further confirmed that we did not want to do a reduced fat or skim milk product.”

Skeptical Cardiologist: ” Any thoughts on A2? Marion Nestle’, of Food Politics fame, was recently in Australia where there is a company promoting A2 milk as likely to cause GI upset. It has captured a significant share of the Aussie market.”

Dr. Kunz: “We have heard of this and have directed our farm to test and replace any A1 heterozygous or homozygous cows.  We believe that very few of our herd would have A1 genetics because of the advantage of using heritage breeds like Brown Swiss and Jersey instead of Holstein.  Because few people are actually tested for lactose intolerance and because of the marketing of A2, it’s imperative not to be left behind in this – whether or not it turns out to be a true and accurate cause of people’s GI upset.

Skeptical Cardiologist:” I like that your milk is nonhomogenized. Seems like the less “processing” the better for food.  I haven’t found any compelling scientific reasons to recommend it to my patients, however. Do  you have any?”

Dr. Kunz: The literature is fairly old on this subject, but xanthine oxidase apparently can become encapsulated in the fat globules and it can be absorbed into the vascular tree and cause vascular injury.  I will look for the articles.  Anyway, taking your milk and subjecting it to 3000-5000 psi (homogenization conditions) certainly causes damage to the delicate proteins and even the less delicate fat globules.  Also remember that dietary cholesterol is not bad but oxidized cholesterol is very bad for you. That’s why overcooking egg yolks and high pressure spray drying to make powder products can be very dangerous – like whey protein powders that may contain some fats.

Skeptical Cardiologist: I spend a fair amount of time traveling in Europe and am always amazed that their milk is ultrapasteurized and sits unrefrigerated on the shelves. any thoughts on that process versus regular pasteurization and on pasteurization in general and its effects on nutritional value of dairy.

Dr. Kunz :“Absolutely crazy bad and nutritionally empty.. don’t know why anyone would buy it. The procedure is known as aseptic pasteurization and is how Nestle makes its wonderful Nesquik. If they made a full fat version of an aseptically pasteurized product it may have more oxidized cholesterol and be more harmful than no fat!!”
So there you have it, Straight from the  doctor dairy farmer’s mouth:
Skimming the healthy dairy fat out of  milk is a highly profitable process. Somehow, without a shred of scientific support,  the dairy industry, in cahoots with misguided and close-minded nutritionists, has convinced the populace that this ultra-processed skim milk pumped full of factory-produced synthetic vitamins is healthier than the original product.
Lactosingly Yours
-ACP
The two  recent articles supporting full fat dairy are:

Circulating Biomarkers of Dairy Fat and Risk of Incident Diabetes Mellitus Among US Men and Women in Two Large Prospective Cohorts

which concluded ‘In two prospective cohorts, higher plasma dairy fatty acid concentrations were associated with lower incident diabetes. Results were similar for erythrocyte 17:0. Our findings highlight need to better understand potential health effects of dairy fat; and dietary and metabolic determinants of these fatty acids

and from Brazilian researchers

Total and Full-Fat, but Not Low-Fat, Dairy Product Intakes are Inversely Associated with Metabolic Syndrome in Adults1

 

18 thoughts on “The Skim Milk Scam: Words of Wisdom From a Doctor Dairy Farmer”

  1. That was very interesting. I usually use 2% milk when I drink it just because I like it better than whole in general. I cannot stand skim. But, maybe, I’ll go back to whole milk.

    Thanks for the interesting article. I have been reading for years that fat doesn’t make you fat … but didn’t know about the financial gain for farmers to split their products into skim, etc.

  2. Dear Skeptical
    Interesting discussion on whole fat milk from a nutritional viewpoint but I think you should examine the economic argument from economists and historians. I am not credentialed to present the argument from a professional perspective ..but I will look forward to discussions regarding processing techniques and what changes dairy industry made because of American Heart Association USDA and cardioologists nutritional recommendations rather than their own desire to sell more skim milk (less whole milk .hi fat ice cream cheeses )

    1. For the dairy industry I think it was win, win when recommendations came out to drink milk skimmed of its fat. What seemed to be a move to a healthier product also allowed them to have two products from one. As such, the dairy industry has no motivation to prove that full fat dairy is healthier than low fat.

    1. They are using non-fat (skim) dry milk as a thickener/stabilizer. Essentially the dried milk that contains oxidized cholesterol created by spray drying that is mentioned by Dr. Kunz in the article. It is a common ingredient in many “regular” yogurts but many health-conscious producers avoid the use of it whenever possible.

      I also question the claim of 100% Grassfed for some of these producers. Are they taking their 100% grassfed milk and sending it off to be dried or are they using some commodity dry milk, which in my opinion makes their product decidedly NOT made with 100% grassfed milk (after all, how that dried milk will reconstitute and who knows how much is being put in). Where is the evidence and accountability? Has anyone done omega and cla testing to compare brands and find which ones are being truthful and which may not be? There should be some way of putting these products to a test of this claim and I wish someone would do it. I really wish these companies were so proud of their own testing that they shared it freely themselves.

      1. Thanks for the information. You have clearly thought about this a lot.
        In my first discussion with Dr. Kunz, I remember him telling me that he had had his milk formally tested for Omega-3 and CLA levels and found them to be significantly higher than factory cow milk. On the TPC website now (http://traderspointcreamery.com/about-us-2/why-grassfed/) I see a general claim for grassfed dairy to have higher levels of these good fats but no actual data.
        I agree that it would be nice to have these numbers for comparison.
        I’ll add these questions and comments to the previous ones, I put to Dr. Kunz

  3. I read with interest about the skim milk as an ingredient. Then I became interested in the sugar content AND saw that the plain has no added sugar, the flavored has around 2 teaspoons of sugar, and the low fat has 3 1/2 teaspoons of sugar. Sugar or fat, you gotta choose which is healthier!

    1. I only consume the plain yogurt, the wildberry tastes way too sweet for me. I add fresh berries to the plain yogurt. I believe the website states that the fruit flavoring comes from a ?compote. Not sure if that counts as added sugar or not.

  4. If there really is this big of a difference between skim and whole milk for health, we should push for WIC programs to go back to whole milk products instead of forcing those on the program to use only low fat dairy.

    1. Excuse my ignorance, but I had to Google WIC and found it is “The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – better known as the WIC Program – serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care.”
      In addition to food choices the general public makes, the Dietary Guidelines and mainstream nutrition organizations recommendations for low fat dairy effect government supported programs like WIC and school lunch programs. Sometimes substituting chocolate low fat milk or sugar sweetened nonfat yogurt for whole dairy products.
      So, yeah we should be pushing for changes.

  5. I changed over to TP whole milk several years ago. It was the only change I made to my diet thus about 30 days after making this change I realized one evenkng that I felt different. I still cannot pinpoint the changes exactly but it was positive that much I know. To be rid of the hormones and antibiotics etc found in regular milk to grassfed has been of great benefit to me.ater o discovered o am allergic to almost all grains because they have been so altered. If I eat or drink anything that has been fed these grains I swell up. So I believe TC cows are 100% Grass fed. Year round. In ghd winyer it is sometimes difficult to get because the cows are producing less do to snow and because grass goes dormant. When I’ve been forced to purchase other milks that are touted to be grass fed through further investigation I’ve found they in fact feed grains through the winter. Why did I in estivate? Because within 12 hours if drinking if o would swell in Myers and feet. So not all research has to be large in nature but can be run on yourself

  6. I am very interested in why the yogurt has skim milk, and in what form the skim milk is added. I would be most happy to not have it used. I had noticed that skim milk was an ingredient in the small individual bottles of TP plain yoghurt; but I don’t remember seeing it listed on the large milk bottle size, which I can no longer find at my present grocery store. I have turned to TP because I am looking for the least processed foods; and also because they use glass bottles. When are you planning to interview Dr. Kunz again?
    Thank you for your column.

      1. Still no response? I’d love to hear more info about the skim milk topic. And wondering if Traderspoint plans to become certified as 100% grassfed, like what Maple Hill Creamery has done. They are saying “made with 100% grassfed milk” but in theory that could just be a bit of 100% grassfed milk, especially if there is no 3rd party certifier.

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