WASHINGTON, October 8, 2020—In a letter to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, the nation’s dairy industry urged the federal government to publish dietary guidelines that reflect the latest, peer-reviewed science showing the benefits of making dairy part of a healthy dietary pattern for all Americans. The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) continues to draw attention to important scientific and peer-reviewed literature and research demonstrating favorable outcomes related to consumption of dairy at all fat levels, which was omitted in the recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) report.

In the letter, IDFA, the nation’s largest association representing dairy cooperatives and dairy processing companies, is addressing the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), scheduled to be released later this year by the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services, the federal departments responsible for overseeing the dietary guidelines process. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and HHS Secretary Alex Azar, IDFA urged the staff at each department to commit to making recommendations that are science-based and achievable so that Americans can realize better health and nutrition.

As the Departments finalize the 2020-2025 issue of the DGAs, public statements and preparatory work by the DGAC suggest that the guidelines will highlight the important role of dairy foods in healthy diets, reinforcing recommendations from earlier cycles of the DGAs. These include acknowledging dairy as an independent food group, including dairy as a core component of eating patterns associated with positive health outcomes and the importance of consuming three servings of dairy each day, among others.

However, IDFA continues to draw attention to how the most recent DGAC report omitted important scientific and peer-reviewed literature and research demonstrating favorable outcomes related to consumption of dairy at all fat levels. With the final DGAs guidelines expected in just a few months, IDFA is encouraging USDA and HHS to remedy the omission of the many scientific studies which demonstrate the health impact of milkfat that is different from other saturated fats. Importantly, IDFA urged, the DGAs messages and recommendations should reflect the important and growing body of evidence on the favorable cardiovascular disease outcomes related to specific types of fatty acids, food matrices and specific sources of fat.

As reflected in comments and formal submissions to the DGAC in 2019 and earlier in 2020, IDFA has provided a comprehensive compendium of scientific studies that address the health effects of dairy at a variety of fat levels; however, considering these studies were not included the final DGAC report without explanation, IDFA is submitting them directly to Secretary Perdue and Secretary Azar.

“The Dietary Guidelines process should be about science and nothing more,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of IDFA. “For generations, the DGAs have emphasized the important role of dairy foods in healthy diets. However, despite a plethora of science to the contrary, recent guidelines have ignored and omitted the favorable health outcomes related to consumption of milkfat, which is different from any other saturated fat. We are grateful to the DGAC for putting dairy foods in a healthy dietary pattern alongside legumes, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables, and we remain hopeful that the Departments will fully restore dairy foods to their necessary and central position in these important federal nutrition guidelines.”

Review a copy of the IDFA letter here.

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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3 million jobs that generate $159 billion in wages and $620 billion in overall economic impact. IDFA’s diverse membership ranges from multinational organizations to single-plant companies, from dairy companies and cooperatives to food retailers and suppliers, all on the cutting edge of innovation and sustainable business practices. Together, they represent 90 percent of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world. Delicious, safe and nutritious, dairy foods offer unparalleled health and consumer benefits to people of all ages.

IDFA Media Contact

Matt Herrick

Senior Vice President, Public Affairs & Communications