Canada: No conclusive link between palm byproducts and butter firmness

Consumers spread #buttergate anecdotes online last year
calendar icon 24 January 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Early last year, butter and its consistency became a hot topic in Canada as consumers began questioning why it seemed to be firmer at room temperature than it once was. Dubbing it #buttergate, some suggested that the cause of its firmness was diet, and in particular, the addition of palm oil products.

There was no evidence to back this claim, however, which is why the Dairy Farmers of Canada put together an Expert Working Group to further evaluate the issue. The group includes dairy researchers and industry experts, as well as members of a consumer organisation.

On Friday, the working group released its report, saying there's no clear evidence to suggest that butter is firmer at room temperature than it once was. The report also said there is no clear link between palm oil byproducts used in feed rations and butter attributes.

"After a careful review of the existing scientific literature and undertaking new testing and consultations with various industry and academic experts, we cannot conclude that any perceived increase in the hardness of butter be solely attributed to the use of palm-derived feed supplements," said Daniel Lefebvre, Chair of the Expert Working Group.

"There is a variety of factors that influence the fatty acid profile of milk which is only one of the factors that can affect butter consistency," he continued. "We have also concluded there are gaps in the body of knowledge that should be addressed, and we offered a series of recommendations to better understand issues related to the properties of butter while also ensuring that industry is better equipped to meet consumer expectations."

Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) supports the working group's findings and said it plans to conduct further research to address the remaining questions outlined in the report.

“I have asked Dr. Lefebvre to continue to work with the industry experts in an advisory capacity to help support the design of such future research," said DFC president Pierre Lampron.



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