Flavoured milks included in sugary beverage-tax battle

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Flavoured milk Milk Us

Flavoured milk drinks have become engrossed in a US debate over combating obesity through taxation, with chocolate and strawberry sweetened dairy drinks facing inclusion in a proposed bill.

The proposals could possibly lead to other governments following suite if inducted as part of a possible new health service funding strategy.

Both the country’s International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and National Milk Producers Federation have hit out at the proposals, which they say would do more damage than good amidst moves to cut US obesity rates.

Drink tax

As part of a wider taxation policy on sugar-sweetened beverages, proposed on 18 May this year by US politicians as part of revenue options for the Senate Finance Committee, milk drinks have been included.

The sugar-sweetened beverage tax is just one option put forward by both Republican and Democrat representatives to help a potential trillion dollar shake up of US healthcare policies.

“While no rate was specified, a tax of three cents per 12 ounces could raise as much at $50bn (€31.4bn) over 10 years, according to a congressional estimate,”​ state the dairy associations.

The groups claim arguments linking a tax on flavoured milk drinks through wider charges on higher sugar beverages to improving obesity rates in US consumers, are misplaced.

Nutrition argument

IDFA president Connie Tipton says milk offers a nutrient-rich beverage that children should be encouraged to be consumed.

“Processors have developed low-fat flavoured milk options that don't have excessive calories, but switching to no-calorie sweeteners has proved problematic,”​ she states. “Still, flavoured milk is an excellent way to increase milk consumption and make children's diets more nutritious."

Pointing to 2005 dietary guidelines released in the US, Tipton claims that the government itself supports flavoured milk consumption as part of a balanced healthy diet.

“According to the guidelines, adding a small amount of sugar to nutrient-rich foods such as reduced-fat milk enhances their appeal and improves diet without adding excessive calories,”​ she states.

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