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Letter to the Editor “Re: Geoff Carpentier”

Dear Editor,

I read with great interest Geoff Carpentier’s wide-ranging column about the production of butter, in the February 17th edition of your paper, “The pandemic, Hard butter and sunflowers – huh?”

I wondered if Mr. Carpentier was drawing on the same source as Dave Bedard when he referred to “studies out of the University of Guelph.” The Expert Working Group on Feed Supplementation included professors from the Universities of Guelph, Toronto and Laval, as well as representatives of the Consumers’ Association of Canada and farmers and processors groups. They released their 84 page report on January 21st. You can read it here:

I have no wish to get into whether or not a rise in home baking increased the overall demand for butter, when a much larger market – the restaurant, food services and catering industry – was shuttered. Nor will I wade into the environmental discussion of growing oil palm trees.

Rather, I will just point out, the Working Group report found no data to show a change in butter consistency, or a link between butter hardness and the use of palm oil as a feed supplement. They did say, there is not yet enough data to conclude one way or the other on hardness, and more study is needed. They noted there are about 400 different fatty acids in milk, and palmitic acid “is the predominant fatty acid in milk, regardless of what the cows eat. . . Cows produce palmitic acid naturally, along with hundreds of other fatty acids found in their milk.”

It is tempting to draw a straight line from cows being fed palm oil, to finding palmitic acid in their milk. However, the group said, most of it comes from the cow’s consumption of traditional feed – hay, silage, grass, and cereal grains.

Go figure, huh?

Margaret Taylor-Sevier, Epsom

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