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Advice on infant milks based on goats' milk

  • Last modified date:
    29 March 2007

The Department of Health does not recommend the use of milk based on goats’ milk protein for infants (under 1 year of age)

The composition of infant formula and follow-on formula is governed by European legislation. The current legislation specifically states the criteria for infant formulas and follow-on formulas to be based on cows' milk protein, hydrolysed protein or soya protein.

In 2005, the European Commission asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to review its assessment of the suitability of the use of goats' milk protein in infant formulas, as further information had been made available by a manufacturer. EFSA reviewed the dossier of additional information and concluded that the available scientific data was insufficient to establish the nutritional adequacy and nutritional safety of goats’ milk protein as a protein source in infant and follow-on formula. This was due to flaws in the methodology, including insufficient sample size, restriction to anthropometric parameters only, absence of a breast-fed reference group and non-adherence to the study’s protocol. EFSA also concluded that there was no convincing data, either in the literature or submitted, to support the belief that the incidence of allergic reactions is lower when feeding goats’ milk based formula compared to cows’ milk based formula. EFSA published its opinion on 12 January 2006, confirming its previous view (see link to EFSA below).

The Department recommends the use infant formula and follow-on formula based on cows’ milk protein or hydrolysed protein or soya protein on the advice of health professionals. In light of EFSA’s opinion, the Department advises health professionals not to recommend the use of infant milks based on goats’ milk protein.

Some parents may believe that infant milk based on goats’ milk protein is a suitable alternative for babies who they percieve as being intolerant or allergic to cows’ milk formula. However, the protein in goats’ milk is very similar to that found in cows’ milk and most babies who react to cows’ milk protein will also react to goats’ milk protein. Goats’ milk protein can induce allergic reactions and is not a suitable milk source for a cows’ milk allergic infant as there is the potential for cross allergenicity.  Infants with proven cows’ milk protein intolerance can be prescribed an extensively hydrolysed infant formula.

Formula derived from goats’ milk is also unsuitable for babies who are lactose intolerant as it contains similar levels of lactose to cows’ milk based infant formulas.

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