Jerry Kozak of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) said flavoured milk is part of the solution to the child obesity problem, not a cause, and its consumption needs to be encouraged among kids, not discouraged by a new tax.
NMPF represents the farmers who produce the nation’s milk, while IDFA represents the processors who pasteurise it and turn it into yogurt, cheese and other finished products.
A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, including flavoured milk, was included in a list of revenue options released on 18 May by senators Max Baucus and Charles Grassley, chairman and ranking republican, respectively, on the Senate Finance Committee.
While no rate was specified, a tax of 3¢ per 12floz could raise as much as $50bn over 10 years to fund an overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system, according to a congressional estimate.
“Milk is a nutrient-rich beverage that is good for kids,” said Connie Tipton of the International Dairy Foods Association. “We need to encourage them to drink more and it’s no secret kids love flavoured milk. Processors have developed low-fat, flavoured milk options that don’t have excessive calories, but switching to no-calorie sweeteners has proved problematic. Still, flavoured milk is an excellent way to increase milk consumption and make children’s diets more nutritious.”
Jerry Kozak added that milk is unique in that it provides nine essential nutrients, including calcium and others of which kids don’t get enough. In addition, he said, research shows that children who drink flavoured and non-flavoured milk don’t have higher body mass indexes than those who don’t drink them.
The dairy industry officials pointed out that the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that adding a small amount of sugar to nutrient-rich foods such as reduced-fat milk enhances their appeal and improves diet without excessive calories. Likewise, Tipton and Kozak said, the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages consumption of low-fat or fat-free milk, including flavoured milk, as an alternative to soft drinks.
Source: International Dairy Foods Association
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