Dairy UK welcomed today the European Council Special Committee on Agriculture's endorsement of a new compromise position for a revised EU School Milk Scheme.
The position expands the list of eligible products for EU subsidy to include a number of flavoured dairy products and increases the total budget from €80 million to €100 million.
The list of eligible products now includes drinking milk and its lactose-free variants, cheese, yogurt and other fermented products as well as a number of flavoured milks and yogurts. National health authorities would still need to approve which of these eligible products to distribute in schools across the UK. The compromise position also includes a breakdown of how much aid would be allocated to each Member State – the UK would receive just under €10 million per school year, which is amongst the four highest allocations of all European countries.
Dr Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK, said: "This is excellent news for school children across the UK. We are particularly pleased by the inclusion of flavoured milks and yogurts alongside plain dairy products as all can make important contributions to children's intakes of essential nutrients, particularly protein, calcium and vitamin B12.
"At a time when children and teenagers tend to eat less dairy and end up missing out on these key nutrients, it is crucial to ensure that nutrient-rich dairy products remain easily accessible to them. The School Milk Scheme plays a key role in ensuring that children have access to these nutritious foods and the importance of this cannot be stressed enough given the role nutrition plays in long term growth and development and overall health.
"Dairy UK has put in a lot of effort to get these messages across to representatives of all European institutions and we are delighted that our voice and those of our European colleagues were heard. We will maintain a constructive dialogue with Members of the European Parliament and other European institutions to ensure the new scheme is adopted."
The European Parliament still needs to give this position the green light before the process can continue. If accepted, the new EU School Milk Scheme would be applicable from August 2017.