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IDFA Touts Benefits of Dairy at Dietary Guidelines Committee Meeting

Jan 15, 2014

The second meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee took place earlier this week at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. IDFA presented oral comments on Tuesday, 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 Michelle Matto, IDFA’s consultant on nutrition and labeling, who presented brief comments within the allowed three-minute window. “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, the National Milk Producers Federation and the National Dairy Council also provided comments in support of milk and dairy products. Unfortunately, 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.

IDFA will reinforce its positive messages in detailed written comments to the committee.

Since the Dietary Guidelines for Americans serve as the basis for federal nutrition programs, including school meals, and also for the government’s communication regarding food and nutrition, the impact of the Dietary Guidelines can be widespread. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is a group of nutrition experts who review nutrition research to make recommendations about the content of the Dietary Guidelines. 

Following the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will finalize the messages of the Dietary Guidelines. Therefore, the recommendations of the Advisory Committee can have significant impact on programs, such as the National School Lunch Program. 

The current 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans increase their intake of low-fat and fat-free dairy products to reach three servings of dairy for adults, two and one-half servings of dairy for children between the ages of four and eight and two servings for children ages two and three.

For more information, contact Matto at

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