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Dairy Facts 2016

WHO Proposal Passes with Some Positive Provisions for Dairy

Jun 02, 2016

World health ministers and other delegates from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 194 member states convened last week in Geneva, Switzerland, at the 69th World Health Assembly to discuss a wide range of health and nutrition issues. The delegates adopted new guidance that aims to protect breastfeeding by restricting the marketing of milk and other dairy products for consumption by infants and young children between 6 months to 3 years of age.

IDFA believes the guidance is unclear and could potentially restrict trade. However, the assembly passed an accompanying resolution with key provisions that IDFA and its industry counterparts had pressed for in recent weeks to help prevent harm to young children’s health, as well as harm to the dairy industry.

The resolution states that existing WHO guidance, which actually promotes dairy product consumption, should still be followed. It also recognizes that the Codex Alimentarius Commission is the global standard-setting body for foods and beverages, not WHO, thereby helping to ensure that the more robust and transparent Codex process will be used for defining food and food-labeling standards.

“Thanks to the strong stand taken by the U.S. delegation and several other countries, the adopted resolution provides significant protections for nutritious dairy products,” said John Allan, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards, who helped lead industry efforts to build awareness of the guidance’s shortcomings and request changes before it was adopted. “But we were very disappointed that the guidance was still accepted as is by WHO members, in spite of the significant deficiencies we uncovered regarding the evidence base and procedures used by WHO.”

Since January, when the guidance was introduced, IDFA has been coordinating with member companies and other trade associations to educate members of Congress and officials from U.S. agencies and foreign governments on the weaknesses of the guidance, as well as the potential for unintended health consequences for young children and violations of international trade obligations.

For more information, contact Allan at

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