A report by MPs on the Dairy All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has called for dairy to be put ‘back on the daily menu’ of the UK and suggested the introduction of a national ‘three- a-day’ programme, similar to the popular ‘five-a-day’ recommendation for fruit and vegetables.
It highlights the key role dairy can play in healthy ageing and tackling malnutrition in older people as well as being paramount to children’s health, growth and wellbeing.
The report, ‘Putting Dairy Back on the Daily Menu’, underlines the benefits of dairy as an ‘outstanding’ sports recovery product and calls on the Government and industry to do more to promote it as such, including in gyms and leisure centres.
Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK, said: “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 the nutritional benefits of dairy products and their role in a balanced diet are no longer obvious to consumers.”
Dr Bryans said the science which underpinned the nutritional benefits of dairy was ‘formidable’ and it was vital to keep pressing home the important role dairy foods play in a healthy diet.
Nick Everington, Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers chief executive, agreed it was vital to promote dairy consumption going forward.
MPs said previous calls to introduce nutrient profiles for dairy products would create an ‘unnecessary burden on already stringent regulations and could be detrimental to natural, traditional foods, while leaving the door open for nutrient-poor foods’.
For example, a diet drink which has no nutrient interest would pass the profile as it contains no fat, sugar or salt. On the other hand, a Greek yoghurt which is a good source of key nutrients including calcium and protein could fail the profile as it could be above the fat target, and therefore would not promoted as a healthy, nutritious product.
The NFU said it supported the recommendations of the APPG and would continue to work with government and the wider industry to achieve change.
"We have a dairy industry in the UK, that despite the current challenges, continues to produce high quality milk and dairy products and it is important that government recognises the nutritional benefits of milk products in its agricultural and public health strategies," said an NFU spokesman.
“Supporting the beneficial role of dairy in a healthy, balanced diet is a key component in creating a sustainable dairy industry for future generations.”