The UK dairy industry has responded angrily to new Government eating guidelines that significantly reduce the recommended daily intake of dairy produce, reports the Farmers Guardian.
The new Eatwell guidelines published by Public Health England recommend that the intake of dairy products should be significantly reduced and should account for just 8% of an individual's daily food intake, down from 12%. Dairy UK has commented that they are 'baffled' at the change and put the previous figure closer to 15%. In explaining why dairy products had been downgraded, a PHE spokesperson said independent experts had advised the nutritional benefits of milk were no longer felt to be as great, while there was concern about milk's fat and salt content and explained that calcium can be be gained from other areas of a balanced diet and not just from dairy products.
Anne Mullen, director of nutrition at the Dairy Council issued an immediate response to PHE's comments saying "Whole milk is low in sodium and is not high in fat; skimmed varieties are low in both." Responding to comments on the calcium, she referred to data indicating that 1 in 5 teenage girls do not achieve calcium requirements as well as 'mild to moderate' iodine deficiency among school girls and pregnant women in the UK. She went on to comment "It would seem PHE do not quite understand the unique nutritional benefits of milk or their own micronutrient data from NDNS." Furthermore she questioned PHE's modelling methods and evidence base commenting "modelling like this is not 'evidence based'. It should be peer reviewd, publicly available and more transparent."
Dairy UK described the decision to reduce the dairy food group in the revised eatwell plate as 'baffling and disappointing' and claimed it went against prevailing scientific advice. Dairy UK Chief Excecutive, Judith Bryans said: "In the UK, dietary guidelines disregard an ever-growing body of robust, science-based evidence which stresses the importance of dairy consumption at all ages. It is genuinely disconcerting to see the dairy food group being disadvantaged by a public health campaign." She went on to say: "At a time when obesity is a real crisis for children and adults alike, nutrient-dense whole foods such as dairy products should be put front and centre in dietary guidelines. Furthermore, dairy products are used in 98% of homes in the UK and only yesterday the Chancellor in his Budget speech excluded dairy products from the sugar tax." Dr Bryans said PHE’s decision goes against a series of recent public announcements and reports which showed a better understanding of the role of milk and dairy products in a healthy and balanced diet.
From a farming point of view, this is all we need when the milk price is on the floor with no real prospect of improvement.