Chinese baby drinking milk.
April 13, 2016

World Health Organization Wants to Discourage Promoting Milk to Young Children

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

In January, the World Health Organization issued a draft guidance document urging the prohibition and marketing of milk products for children up to the age of three. Though the draft document was modified last month, the revisions still don’t align with established science about milk’s nutrition benefits, say U.S. dairy groups.

So today, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) pushed back, sending a letter to Congress to push the U.S. government to insist WHO revise the document. There is also urgency in the request, since the WHO Secretariat seeks approval of the milk guidance document by the World Health Assembly next month.

“The WHO guidance document is a de facto criticism of all milk consumption by toddlers,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.  “This flies in the face of all credible, international nutrition research, and would confuse consumers across the globe.”

“The WHO guidance should be focusing on how to encourage the serving of nutrient-dense foods to provide young children and toddlers with a nutritious basis for meals and snacks,” adds Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. “It should not restrict the flow of important information regarding the nutritional benefits of dairy foods for young children to parents, caregivers and healthcare providers.”

NMPF and IDFA want a more thorough analysis of milk’s attributes for young children and the potential for harm if the guidance document stands as written. “This is of great concern to the U.S. dairy industry because the policies proposed contradict decades of federal nutrition policy, which recognizes dairy foods as safe, nutrient-rich foods to be encouraged for growing children under three years of age,” NMPF and IDFA argue in their letter to Congress. “…the Draft Guidance specifically favors locally-produced products by exempting them from the proposed restrictions, and singles out imported, commercially-produced products for inclusion.”

Read the full contents of the letter here.