Research published since 2010 has strengthened the case for dairy’s beneficial role in reducing the risk of several chronic diseases, according to Briczinski. “The good news is that if people who under-consume dairy would add even one serving a day, that would bring average daily intakes of Americans much closer to meeting Dietary Guideline recommendations. We hope this committee will encourage people who are under-consuming dairy to add that extra serving.”
Briczinski cited recent research indicating dairy is an inexpensive way of providing these nutrients, and that since the last round of federal nutrition advice, the case has been strengthened that dairy is beneficial in reducing the risk of several chronic diseases.
“Many population groups do not consume anywhere near the recommended amounts of dairy,” she said. “The good news is that if people who under-consume dairy would add even one serving a day, that would bring average daily intakes … much close to meeting Dietary Guideline recommendations.”
IDFA highlights industry efforts
Michelle Matto, International Dairy Foods Association’s consultant on nutrition and labeling, presented oral comments, also emphasizing the value that nutrient-dense dairy products bring to the American diet, and highlighting the industry’s successful efforts to reduce fat, added sugar and sodium, while continuing to meet consumer demand for delicious, convenient and reasonably priced products.
“Milk provides nine essential nutrients, while yogurt and cheese provide protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamins A and D,” said Matto. “Even dairy products that contain some fat or added sugar have high nutrient density. Focusing American diets on nutrient-dense foods encourages people to include more nutrients in a lower calorie diet and helps them meet overall dietary requirements.”
Matto explained how many companies have incorporated new processing technologies and ingredients to lower fat, sodium and added sugars in dairy products, particularly yogurt, ice cream and cheese. At the same time, she noted that the functional use of salt in the cheesemaking process makes reducing sodium extremely difficult and asked committee members to consider the recent Institute of Medicine’s report on sodium when making new recommendations. Although the report indicates that reducing sodium intake from very high to moderate levels provides health benefits, the authors said there is no indication that the general population should lower sodium intake below 2,300 mg, or that special populations need separate recommendations.
Anti-dairy presenters outnumbered pro-dairy
Representatives from the Milk Processor Education Program and the National Dairy Council also provided comments in support of milk and dairy products.
According to IDFA, the pro-dairy viewpoint was significantly outnumbered by anti-dairy speakers, including representatives from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an activist group whose views are closely aligned with the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.