Efforts to undermine the nutritional benefits of dairy products are becoming increasingly based on ill-informed opinion which betrays a lack of scientific knowledge and understanding, The Dairy Council said today.
In recent months there have been a number of media articles and appearances by people making unfounded and inaccurate nutritional and health statements about dairy.
The latest example was published on the Daily Express website today, headlined “Is milk giving you cancer? Seven reasons to ditch dairy”.
Dr Anne Mullen, Director of Nutrition at the Dairy Council, said: “Sadly, we are seeing an increase of articles and pronouncements by so-called experts who, it is quite clear, are failing increasingly to stick to the facts about dairy.
“The dairy industry is regulated very strictly in what it can claim in terms of the health benefits of dairy. But it is not in the interests of consumers and good food safety practice for people to undermine the nutritional qualities of dairy with impunity and with scant regard to scientific evidence. It is irresponsible.”
The Dairy Council today published a response to the Express article correcting the following points.
- Bovine Growth Hormone is not injected into cows in the UK and in the EU – this is a complete falsehood and shows a serious breach in understanding of food production and food content.
- Studies have shown no association between milk and cheese intake and breast cancer risk, milk and dairy may be protective against breast cancer and that milk and dairy consumption have no effect on breast cancer survival. Prudently, the World Cancer Research Fund says that evidence of any connection is limited.
- The theory that milk and dairy ‘acidify’ the body, or the ‘acid-ash hypothesis’ is scientifically defunct. Milk and dairy foods do not cause acidity in the body.
- There is a profound misrepresentation of the degree of lactose intolerance in our population (about 5% of adults are affected) in this article, again betraying a lack of understanding of nutritional science. In people with lactose intolerance, research shows that 12g lactose (200g yogurt, 250mls milk) can be consumed per day without any effects.
- Milk and dairy foods are not fattening unless, like other energy-providing foods, they are consumed in excess in an unbalanced diet. Health weight loss and weight control are achieved through eating a balanced diet that meets nutrient requirements and physical activity. There is little mystery to weight gain and weight loss. However, some studies have shown that including dairy foods in an energy-restricted diet may enhance weight loss.
- There is no evidence presented in the article to support the assertion that milk is associated with acne. It certainly is imprudent to state that giving up dairy and milk is ‘the best thing you can do for your skin’ as milk and dairy products contain an array of nutrients such as riboflavin and calcium that are important for health.
- Milk and dairy contribute 25% total energy, 34% of protein, 34% fat, 61% calcium, 64% iodine, 55% riboflavin and 63% vitamin B12, for example, to the diets of 1.5 to 3 year olds in the UK, as well as 36% calcium, 33% iodine, 28% riboflavin and 33% vitamin B12 to adults aged 19 to 64. It is reckless to fob off foods that provide so much to the nutritional health of the nation as ‘a bit weird’.
The practice of dietetics and nutrition in the UK is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council and the Association for Nutrition, respectively. The Dairy Council is staffed by registered dieticians and nutritionists and our remit is to provide evidence-based science on dairy and health. It is important that the public is given accurate scientific and nutritional information.