UK should launch ‘3-a-day’ dairy program: report
It 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, ‘Putting Dairy Back on the Daily Menu’, follows an enquiry on the role of dairy in the public health debate.
3-a-day program promoted
Based on evidence received during the enquiry, the Dairy APPG wrote to the Department of Health to ask for the implementation of a 3-a-day program for milk and dairy in nutritional guidelines in the UK.
At the launch, Simon Hoare MP, vice-chairman of the Dairy APPG, said, “There isn’t any over-production, but there is a lack of take up. And just as five a day has become the rubric on many a health board, the essence of this report is to point out clearly – and we’ll be pursuing this with ministers and officials at the Department of Health – three a day of dairy produce, British produced dairy produce.”
Dairy important to health
He added that the dairy food group plays a key role in any government strategy on both public health and healthy eating.
“We have an outstanding industry in the UK, it provides an ever-growing range of products, and strives always to meet customers’ and consumers’ evolving needs and expectations,” he said.
“If the UK wants a thriving dairy sector, we need policies that support the sector, not policies that hinder it.
“Countries like France, Australia, Canada and the US all have successful programs in place, why shouldn’t the UK? We need a similar program to remind consumers why dairy is good for them, and thereby not just promote public health, but to stimulate demand to fiscally support our dairy sector.
“It’s time we put dairy back on the British menu.”
Concern about younger generation consumption
Margaret Ritchie MP, vice-chairman of the Dairy APPG, added: “Current 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.”
Neil Parish MP, committee member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee, speaking at the event, welcomed the report, and said, “We’ve got to make sure we go out there and we market our milk and we promote our milk products.
“And we’re now told that dairy fat is great for us when for years we’ve been told it wasn’t, so let’s go on the offensive, because for years we’ve been driven back by vegetable products and yet dairy now is that natural food.”
Key points in report
The report notes that milk and dairy products have a key role to play to help healthy aging and tackle malnutrition in older people.
It also states milk and dairy products should be put front and center as sports recovery products. This includes exploring new ways to include and offer dairy products in gyms and leisure centers as well as encouraging innovation and new product development to target this market.
The Dairy APPG report says that the dairy food group has strong environmental and nutritional credentials that should be promoted. It states that all food sectors should have a robust evidence-base when discussing the benefits and strengths of their products.
One recommendation is that Parliament and Government support industry efforts to promote British milk and dairy products and that the nutritional value of dairy products to the UK diet should be recognized by the Department of Health.
Milk and dairy are paramount to children’s health, the report notes, adding that government and industry should work with schools to create positive messages about dairy consumption and educate about the benefits of dairy.
Dairy UK supports APPG 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.”
RABDF says industry needs public support
Nick Everington, Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (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.”
He added that dairy farming is currently facing its biggest challenge in decades, and needed public support.
“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.”