Nutrition mission at heart of UK dairy week

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dairy industry, Nutrition

The impacts of dairy consumption on health and nutrition remains the key focus for the UK dairy industry following this month’s inaugural National Dairy Week.

UK-based association, The Dairy Council, said that during the event, which ran between from 2 February to 8 February, stakeholders from across the supply chain combined forces to help promote the role of dairy foods in diets.

Key to the council’s own activities over the period were the opinions of ​Professor Robert Heaney, who claimed that dairy foods such as milk and yoghurt had rich nutrient profiles in relation to their energy content, allowing them to be key to any balanced diet.

Health claim reform

Amidst ongoing reforms of the European health claims regulation, the dairy industry across the bloc has sought to obtain backing to play up the potential nutrition benefits of some of its products.

Under new regulations adopted back in 2006, in order to obtain health claims for products sold in the bloc, approval must be sought by the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA).

Last December, European experts suggested the dairy industry may have to forgo trying to obtain claims on more specific children’s and disease reduction benefits under article 14 of the new regulations.

Back in September 2008, the NDA rejected two of the claims relating to article 14, supplied by the Ireland-based National Dairy Council (NDC), suggesting that consumption of a wide-variety of dairy goods may be beneficial to fighting disease.

Diet attitude

Despite the potential challenges relating to the new European regulations, in reflecting the week’s central theme of dairy through the ages, Heaney claimed that the industry could still play a role in meeting concerns over societies changing attitudes to diet.

“The primitive diet was energy poor and nutrient rich, the modern diet is the opposite which means we tend to be overweight yet malnourished,”​ he stated.

In making these comments, the Heaney suggested that a diet high in calcium alone, while linked to some benefits for children’s’ bone health, was not enough to ensure health growth. He added that an intake of protein, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin D were also vital.

Dairy Council director Dr Judith Bryans echoed these sentiments, adding that promoting dairy goods as having a key role in a balanced diet remains, as ever, a key drive for the industry.

“Dairy foods fit very well into a healthy eating pattern,” ​she stated. “For those who cannot or do not wish to eat dairy products it is important that the nutrients that dairy provides are replaced with other foods and a registered dietitian can help them do this.”

Related topics: Markets, Dairy Health Check

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