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Re: The contribution of the private sector and civil society to improve nutrition

Ms. Laurence Rycken International Dairy Federation, Belgium

The International Dairy Federation (IDF) appreciates the opportunity to contribute to this online discussion on “The contribution of the private sector and civil society to improve nutrition”. Founded in 1903, IDF is the leading source of scientific and technical expertise for all stakeholders of the dairy chain. IDF is committed to furthering current knowledge and science on a wide range of issues by triggering state of the art projects across the dairy chain.

One of the questions posed is to comment on the core background and expert papers and materials for the ICN2. Although mostly excellent, we have some concerns about one of the conclusions/statements in 'Leveraging agriculture and food systems for healthier diets and non-communicable disease prevention: the need for policy coherence' by Hawkes C and colleagues.  On page 22 it states that in relation to dairy products (along with highly processed foods and meats) 'Increasing consumption of these foods has been associated with Non-Communicable Diseases.' 

We believe this is not fully representative of the available scientific evidence for dairy foods and NCDs.  For example the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines acknowledge the evidence for the health benefits of consumption of milk, yogurt and cheese has strengthened since the 2003 edition of the dietary guidelines[1] and states that:

Consumption of milk, yogurt and cheese can protect us against heart disease and stroke, can reduce our risk of high blood pressure and some cancers, may reduce our risk of type 2 diabetes and may contribute to stronger bones


In relation to the question  ‘What role can the private sector and civil society play in designing and implementing policies that make agriculture and food systems more nutrition-enhancing?’ we would like to say that international dairy organisations such as IDF and national dairy food organisations can play a role in the development of nutrition policy, such as dietary guidelines. Their staff has the specialist expertise required to assist policy makers in using the latest scientific literature on dairy foods and health.  Also, many national dairy organisations fund research to fill gaps in knowledge relating to the impact of dairy consumption on health.

[1] National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Australian Dietary Guidelines Summary, Pg 23. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.