Dairy UK slams Eating Better report

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Dairy UK says the Eating Better report cherry picks statistics that paint a false picture of the UK industry.
Dairy UK says the Eating Better report cherry picks statistics that paint a false picture of the UK industry.

Related tags Dairy uk Milk Dairy

Dairy UK has responded angrily to the publication of a new report urging consumers to change their diet to include less meat and dairy products.

The 21-page Eating Better report, Principles for eating meat and dairy more sustainably: the ‘less and better’ approach​, urges consumers to choose better and eat less of certain products, for not only their own health, but also the planet.

The reports states consumers should eat less cheese, and moderate their milk consumption.

Report “cherry picks” statistics

Dairy UK said the environmental and nutritional contribution of the dairy sector has been “wilfully misrepresented,” by the report urging reduced consumption of dairy products.

Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK said, “We totally reject any assertion that dairy products are not environmentally sustainable.

“The dairy sector helps to feed the UK with efficient, predominantly grass-based milk production, high animal welfare standards, safe and nutritious foods.”

Bryans said the report criticizes UK dairy from a global perspective and cherry picks statistics that paint a false picture of the UK industry.

“Advising consumers to cut their dairy intake is wrong and unhelpful in helping the nation meet its nutritional requirements. The authors are also behind the times on global dairy, which is making strides forward on the environmental front and has even signed a Declaration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.”

‘Reducing environmental footprint’

The report states that, “owing to the relatively high water content of milk, emissions associated with one kilo of milk are low relative to those from the same amount of beef. However, milk also contains less energy and protein per gram. On the other hand, cheese has a relatively high GHG intensity (8-10 times that of milk, depending on the hardness of the cheese meaning that cheese can have a higher impact (per kilogram) than pork.”

Bryans said, “Milk production only accounts for 2.8% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions. The sector is fully committed to reducing its environmental footprint and has achieved a 24% decline in UK dairy greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2015.”

Bryans said the report fails to recognize dairy products are nutrient-rich foods and excellent sources of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin B12 and iodine and form part of a healthy balanced diet.

Support for report

However, Dominika Piasecka, spokesperson for The Vegan Society, told DairyReporter she supported the report, and said, “What we eat has a huge impact on climate change and the natural environment. Animal agriculture is inherently unsustainable and wasteful because for every 100 calories fed to animals, we receive back only 12 calories by consuming their flesh and milk.

“The dairy industry, far from its perception as an innocent by-product, is every bit as environmentally destructive as meat. Dairy alone accounts for about 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, over half of which is methane - a highly potent greenhouse gas emitted by cows.

“The Vegan Society is pleased that the new Eating Better report encourages adopting a predominantly plant-based diet, however we must remember that veganism remains the best choice for those who want to live ethical, sustainable and healthy lives.”

Eating Better is an alliance of more than 50 civil society organizations working to build consensus and develop collaborative practical approaches to engage policy makers, food businesses and civil society to catalyze shifts towards healthy and sustainable eating patterns.

The group includes such organizations as Compassion in World Farming, RSPB, The Association of UK Dietitians, WWF, Food Ethics Council, Greenpeace and Oxfam.


What a surprise

Posted by Vegan Future,

It comes as no surprise that the dairy industry 'slams' a report advising perfectly reasonably that no-one needs dairy and everyone should cut it out of their diet, I would expect nothing less just as the tobacco industry protested about advice to stop smoking.

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Dairy UK can't greenwash methane - 25X worse than CO2

Posted by Stuart,

The problem for dairy is that dairy cows and beef cattle emit large amounts of the greenhouse gas methane (from their stomachs out their mouths as well as from their rear and the manure), which is 25X more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat and causing climate change.

Therefore, when a carbon tax is implemented, the tax on methane as a greenhouse gas should be 25X time more. Plain and simple. Obviously, that will cause dairy and beef products to rise in price - as they should. Otherwise, they're being subsidized at the expense of non-methane foods and beverages.

Of course, the dairy industry will say that they're only 4% of the UK's GHGs, but as the Vegan group points out, half of those GHGs are composed of methane - therefore the impact is much more than the dairy industry is pointing out: 2% plus 2X25 = a real impact of 52, 13X more than 4%. Sort of like saying whole milk is only 3.25% fat when in fact the fat calories are about 48%.

The point is that the public is already seeing through the lies and cutting back on dairy and beef, whey protein and sodium caseinate consumption. Ethical food and beverage companies and product developers are doing the same by cutting out those ingredients wherever possible. That's not only environmentally responsible, it's also financially prudent: the risk of being caught and boycotted by using dairy ingredients is now extremely risky and getting more risky by the day.

Sadly, the dairy industry is throwing future generations under the climate change bus for their own financial gain. That doesn't mean that product developers have to do the same. They need to explore the dairy alternatives voluntarily before the government, or worse public boycotts, force them to do it.

PS, I drink milk, use whey protein and eat cheese and meat but I'm trying to reduce my consumption. Tough to do!

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