The Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which earlier this month asked the Government to support the introduction of a national ‘three-a-day’ programme - similar to the popular ‘five-a-day’ recommendation for fruit and vegetables – said the Eatwell guidelines had ignored the evidence about the health benefits of dairy.
Public Health England’s new Eatwell guidelines recommend dairy products should account for just 8 per cent of an individual’s daily food intake, compared with 15 per cent under the previous guidelines.
Dairy APPG chairman Heather Wheeler said: “The Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group just released a report which highlights the essential role of dairy products in a healthy and balanced diet, based on robust evidence provided by nutrition and health experts.
“This evidence is widely available and it is therefore both puzzling and frustrating to see that official dietary guidelines would not rely on it.”
The guidelines were also condemned by Arla bosses, who said they were seeking an urgent meeting to clarify ‘what, if any, scientific and nutritional data this new guidance has been based upon’.
“Milk is nutritious by nature and having dairy in one’s daily diet is a simple and tasty way to assure intake of important nutrients. Therefore, we are perplexed as to why the new guidance to consumers states that they should lessen their intake,” an Arla spokesman said.
He said the company was aware of the wider health issues facing the nation and had focussed on developing new products, for example with lower levels of added sugar, fat, lower salt, increased protein, or boosted vitamins, to increase the range of choice.
The spokesman added: “While it is absolutely important that public guidelines are regularly reviewed to meet the changing needs of our population, it is also vital that messages to consumers about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods are clear.
“There is a very real risk that, as part of a wider dialogue about this new guidance, the value of dairy and the natural, nutritional benefit of milk is forgotten by those who need it most.”
“For example, 19 per cent of teenage girls have very low intake of calcium and 22 per cent have very low intake of vitamin B2. Against this backdrop of poor nutrition, we believe that the latest guidance could be misleading, confusing, and will potentially exacerbate an already critical situation.”