Farmers have said the recommended measures outlined in the Childhood Obesity Plan could have detrimental and far-reaching implications for the dairy sector.
The government is expected to publish a refreshed version of the 2016 Childhood Obesity Plan shortly.
As part of this report, plans to extend the tax levy on sugary soft drinks to milk-based drinks has been recommended as “a matter of urgency” by the Commons Health Committee.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) said it strongly opposes the premise that sugary soft drinks and all milk-based drinks should attract similar tax based levies.
It says such products are incomparable and the transfer of a levy penalty to nutritional milk drinks is therefore inappropriate.
Dai Miles, FUW Milk and Dairy Produce Chairman said: “Milk and dairy products contain vitamins and minerals essential for health and well-being, including calcium, iodine, riboflavin and vitamin B12.
“It is the belief of the FUW that the Nutrient Profiling Modelling undertaken has done a tremendous disservice to nutritional milk products and could detrimentally affect the ways in which such products are viewed by the consumer.”
The FUW said it will continue to promote the health benefits of dairy produce by engaging with relevant stakeholders to discuss the ways in which this plan should move forward.
Dairy UK, a trade association that represents milk processors and dairy farmers, said it fully supports tackling childhood obesity.
However, the body said it does not agree with the extension of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to include all milk-based drinks.
It said this would have a detrimental impact on the marketing of high quality, safe and nutritious dairy products – products which are nutritionally beneficial to children rather than being harmful.
Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK said: “Regrettably, because of the way the Nutrient Profiling Model has been developed dairy products end up being penalised alongside junk foods.
“Milk-based drinks should, in our view, be exempt from the recommendations made by the committee.”
Dairy UK will urge the government to make the new Nutrient Profile Modelling exclude any product containing over 75% milk, cheese or yogurt.
The news follows the start of World Milk Day today (1 June), which will see farmers, the wider industry and the public celebrate the contributions the dairy sector plays in society.
The day celebrates the important contributions of the dairy sector to sustainability, economic development, livelihoods and nutrition.
Source: Farming UK