A new report published by the Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) looks at how dairy products contribute to a healthy lifestyle at all ages and calls for greater efforts to promote dairy as part of a balanced diet.
The report, entitled ‘Putting Dairy Back on the Daily Menu’, follows a thorough enquiry on the role of dairy in the public health debate. The evidence presented to the APPG showed that policies which target individual nutrients do not always provide a balanced view of certain food and often fail to take into account the effect of whole foods and dietary patterns on health outcomes.
Based on evidence received during the enquiry, the Dairy APPG wrote to the Department of Health to ask for the implementation of a three-a-day programme for milk and dairy in nutritional guidelines in the UK.
Heather Wheeler MP, Chair of the Dairy APPG, said: “From school milk schemes for children to nutrition and healthy ageing campaigns, the APPG gained a better understanding of the role played by dairy. I was quite surprised to see that so many misconceptions and myths about dairy still resist even the strongest science. The purpose of this report is to identify how Parliamentarians and Government can work together with industry to support the crucial role of dairy in the public health debate.
“The dairy industry has long played an important role in helping to feed the people of the UK. I believe that we in Parliament can, and must, support our great British dairy industry as much as possible and through the Dairy APPG we will make sure we put dairy back on the daily menu.”
Simon Hoare MP, Vice-Chairman of the Dairy APPG, said: “I am a proud supporter of our British dairy industry and I believe that collaborative work is essential in order to reach our goals. We have an outstanding industry in the UK that provides an ever-growing range of products and the Government must recognise the key role dairy plays in any strategy on public health and healthy eating.”
Margaret Ritchie MP, Vice-Chairman of the Dairy APPG, added: “Currents trends in dairy consumption are a concern; although milk and dairy foods are paramount to the development of children and teenagers, younger generations do not always see dairy as being an essential part of their diet. The Government needs to work closely with schools to circulate positive messages about dairy more effectively and ensure that dairy consumption from a young age is a priority.”
Dairy UK and the RABDF have welcomed the report.
Dr Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK, said:“The Dairy APPG report is a welcome contribution to the debate on the links between dairy, health and nutrition. Milk and dairy products are packed full of the nutrients we need at all stages of life. Yet, because of conflicting media stories, negative messages and a flurry of questionable claims about dairy alternatives, it seems that the nutritional benefits of dairy products and their role in a balanced diet are no longer obvious to consumers.
“The science that underpins the nutritional benefits of dairy is formidable and we need to keep pressing home that dairy foods have a crucial role to play in a healthy diet. As such, we strongly support the APPG’s calls for the implementation of three-a-day programme into nutritional guidelines in the UK to promote consumption and educate consumers of the benefits of dairy.
“Last but not least, we fully support the APPG’s recommendations for a cautious approach to reformulation programmes as policies which target individual nutrients do not always provide a balanced view of certain foods and can lead to misunderstanding the total value of whole foods. We have been calling for a holistic approach to nutrition policies to ensure that nutrition policies take into account the effect of whole foods and dietary patterns on health outcomes. Measures such as nutrient profiles fail dramatically to consider the nutrient-richness of natural foods such as milk or cheese and have a serious impact on the industry’s competitiveness.
“We are very pleased to see so much support from all sides of the political spectrum for a greater focus on the benefits of milk and dairy products. The dairy industry is a pillar of the UK economy and we need to work more effectively with Parliament and Government to spread the word on the benefits of dairy foods and support the future of the industry.”
Nick Everington, RABDF Chief Executive, said: “Promoting the consumption of milk and dairy products as part of a balanced diet is good for the health of consumers, the rural economy and the nation as a whole. With dairy farming currently facing its biggest challenge in more than two decades, it desperately needs the support of the British public.
“Making consumers fully aware of the health benefits that arise from consuming dairy is vitally important if we are to have a sustainable dairy sector going forward. British dairy farmers are continually being told they need to improve efficiency but without the support of consumers this is a complete waste of time.
“Supporting the promotion of dairy produce has been and still remains a key objective of the Association since its inception in 1876.”