Dairy sector fights back against ‘demonisation’

Advice to reduce dairy in the daily diet from 15% to 8% has been challenged

The dairy sector is being unfairly targeted by the recommendations of public health bodies, as they attempt to reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to The Dairy Council.

The not-for-profit organisation, said milk and dairy foods were nutritious, and their benefits could be hidden when a single nutrient approach to public health guidelines was taken.

Its comments came after Public Health England reduced the size of the dairy and dairy alternatives section of the new Eatwell Guide from 15% to 8%.

“It is often thought that milk and dairy, due to their saturated fat content, can play a part in developing health problems such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, but recent studies have shown that’s not the case,” said The Dairy Council director of nutrition Anne Mullen.

Unjustly linked to heart disease

More than 80% of healthcare professionals agreed that milk and dairy foods were unjustly linked to heart disease, according to a survey from The Dairy Council.

It also claimed 79% did not think, or were not sure whether, dairy should be targeted to reduce cardiometabolic risk in the public.

The Provision Trade Federation (PTF) – which has members in a number of different dairy product categories – said milk and dairy products were vital for a balanced diet. It added that reports had shown dairy played a protective role against disease.

Vital for a balanced diet

Milk and dairy products are recognised as a good source of protein and calcium, and essential vitamins such as vitamin A, D, B2 and B12. Protein is needed for growth and repair and proper functioning of our bodies,” said PTF director general Andrew Kuyk.

“Calcium helps to keep bones and teeth strong and the calcium in milk and dairy foods is particularly good because it is easily absorbed by the body. Milk fat gives energy and provides the fat soluble essential vitamins A and D.”

Research, carried out by the Food Standards Agency’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, had reported that calcium and bioactive peptides found in dairy products might have beneficial effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular health, he added.

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