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Despite a widespread absence of infrastructural organization for goat milk in the United States, more commercial successes with goat milk marketing are becoming known in recent years (Loewenstein et al., 1980; Kapture, 1982; Haenlein, 1985; Pinkerton, 1991; Hankin, 1992; Jackson, 1992). Also, significant new research station efforts in Texas, California, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Louisiana have been advancing new knowledge of goat milk production on the farm, and of the physiology, biochemistry and veterinary aspects of the animal in recent years. In addition to that, a new scientific journal--Small Ruminant Research--has become established by the International Goat Association initially quarterly but now on a monthly basis and with broad international support, published since 1988 by Elsevier Science Publishers at Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Volumes of new scientific data presented at five major, quintannual, international goat conferences have become widely circulated. Thus, it is high time to include in these developments the sanitarians, for establishing quality standards, and the medical profession, for evidence on the medical benefits and values in human nutrition of goat milk.
Medical Research Evidence for Goat Milk
A popular therapy among pediatricians is the change to vegetable protein soy-based formula; however, an estimated 20 to 50 percent of all infants with cow's milk protein intolerance will also react adversely to soy proteins (Lothe et al., 1982). Approximately 40 percent of all patients sensitive to cow milk proteins tolerate goat milk proteins (Brenneman, 1978; Zeman, 1982), possibly because lactalbumin is immunospecific between species (Hill, 1939), but beta-lactoglobulin appears to be the major allergen in cow's milk.
Biochemical Differences Between Goat Milk and Cow Milk
Actually, the composition of goat milk fat may be much more important than the prevalence of large numbers of small fat globules, because it too differs significantly from the composition of cow milk fat under average feeding conditions (Haenlein, 1992). The various components of milk fat, fatty acids, differ in carbon chain length and saturation, which has nutritional and medical significance. Goat milk fat normally has 35 percent of medium chain fatty acids (C6-C14) compared to cow milk fat 17 percent, and three are named after goats: Caproic (C6), caprylic (C8), capric (C10), totaling 15 percent in goat milk fat vs. only 5 percent in cow milk fat (Table 1). Besides their unique flavor, which has serious consequences in improper handling of goat milk, these medium chain fatty acids (MCT) have become of considerable interest to the medical profession, because of their unique benefits in many metabolic diseases of humans (Babayan, 1981).
Capric, caprylic and other MCT have been used for treatment of malabsorption syndrome, intestinal disorders, coronary diseases, pre-mature infant nutrition, cystic fibrosis, gallstone problems, because of their unique metabolic abilities of providing energy and at the same time lowering, inhibiting and dissolving cholesterol deposits (Schwabe et al., 1964; Greenberger and Skillman, 1969; Kalser, 1971; Tantibhedhyangkul and Hashim, 1975, 1978). It seems apparent that in this lipid area is great potential for identifying a unique importance and role for goat milk, specifically goat milk fat and probably goat milk butter, which has not received much attention at all. And all this adds even more importance to the establishment of acceptable practices and standards for quality goat milk production, which so far has been lagging behind those for dairy cows, but which require separate establishment because of the many unique physiological and metabolic characteristics of goats compared to cows (Haenlein, 1980, 1987a, 1991; Hinckley, 1991; Kalogridou-Vassiliadou et al., 1992).
According to J. C. LeJaouen et al., 1981; J. R. Campbell et al., 1975; S. K. Kon et al., 1961.
About the author: The following references are attributed to this article:
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