January 9, 2017

Dairy Groups Concerned with Reduced WIC Milk Servings

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

Dairy leaders are concerned with National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee recommendations to change the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The committee’s proposed changes reduce the amount of milk consumed by WIC program participants.

In a joint statement on Friday, National Milk Producers Federation president and CEO Jim Mulhern and Micheal Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association said the NAS committee’s new recommendations undermine the nutritional value of the WIC program.

“It is contradictory that the NAS report would both acknowledge that many WIC participants are not getting enough milk, yet at the same time suggest further reducing the milk served through the program,” they said.

The statement explained the dietary reasons milk, cheese and yogurt should be included in the diets of young children. “The reason dairy foods are included in the WIC package is that no other food source can deliver such a wide range of vital nutrients to mothers and young children,” the statement said. “Cutting back on dairy is a step in the wrong direction.”

The NAS committee recommendations weren’t all bad for dairy. The recommendations encourage dairy consumption by WIC participants including the substitution of cheese and expanded options for yogurt substituting and purchasing.

In addition, the committee recommendations recognized that plant-based beverages, like almond and rice milk, aren’t nutritionally equivalent to milk: Something dairy groups have been saying for years.

Fortunate for dairy groups, the committee’s recommendations aren’t set in stone. USDA will take them into consideration when deciding on any changes or revisions to the WIC program.