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04 September 2006

Donkey dairy the key to longevity?

Donkey milk has been hailed as the secret of long life by a family in Ecuador, but is there any science behind claims for milk that is supposedly the closest thing to human milk?

Donkey milk has been hailed as the secret of long life by a family in Ecuador, but is there any science behind claims for milk that is supposedly the closest thing to human milk?

NutraIngredients.com that he was surprised by the admission.

A productive donkey dairy
Denys and his partner Marie Tack operate Europe’s most productive donkey dairy, yielding between 2000 and 3000 litres of milk every year. Half of this production goes into a popular cosmetics range, offering customers donkey milk soaps, crème de bains, beauty cream, and face masks.

Donkey milk vs. cow's milk
Denys described the milk as whiter and lighter than cow’s milk, with a lower fat content. Indeed, according to Fundamentals of Dairy Chemistry (B. Webb, A. Johnson, J. Alford, AVI Publishing, 1974) donkey milk only contains 0,6g of fat per 100g of fresh milk, considerably less than the 3,7g found in cow’s milk.

Animal Research (2004, Vol. 53, pp. 67-78) reported that the average protein content of the milk is 1,72g per 100g of milk, and was characterised by low casein and whey protein contents.

False claims?
Amazingly, and perhaps irresponsibly, the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences (Vol. 53, Issue 11, p. 510) ran a news article in November 1999 entitled, “Aids cure from donkey's milk? 'Immuno-stimulants in milk could provide cure for cancer, TB.'”

Health market targeted
Any potential success for donkey’s milk appears to lie in the health and nutritional markets, however, and the Asinerie du Pays des Collines does market its milk as a ‘cure’ of 28 bottles of 20ml, one of each to be drunk each day to help boost the system. Sales are limited to a specific catchment area ranging from Amsterdam to Paris, due to the milk being frozen after milking.


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