Many dairy proponents who have studied the newly released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020 to 2025 will tell you that there are many wins for the category. During the January 6 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream, Cornell’s Andy Novakovic framed this conversation another way, explaining that there are wins and areas to continue working on.
“There is no successful team that wins only with offense or only with defense,” the seasoned economist explained. “I know we have a lot of natural reaction to say, ‘How come the new guidelines didn’t include whole milk? We need to give them a hard time about this or that, and they didn’t pay any attention to the research on satiety and how that might be positively impacted by whole fat foods.’
“That’s all good, but we also need to keep pushing forward the positive message,” Novakovic went on to say.
During his opening comments Novakovic outlined a few of the areas that fall under both offensive and defensive categories.
Firstly, the dietary guidelines remain staunch supporters of dairy products, in particular milk, yogurt, and cheese, as key dietary ways to consume calcium and vitamin D. Additionally, dairy remains its own category with an emphasis on consuming two to three servings per day for Americans of all ages.
Those are important, positive messages that Novakovic encouraged the industry to continue touting on offense.
Work to be done
Novakovic was careful not to say that dietary guidelines got everything right on dairy, though. He reminded listeners that the dietary guideline process was a slow one, and there are a few areas in particular where dairy needs to continue beating the drum.
The first is one that has garnered a lot of attention in the industry, and that is full-fat options. You can read more about the discussion on the developments in this area in the Intel “The roadmap to dairy’s full-fat approval.”
Additionally, Novakovic reminded listeners of the importance of distinguishing between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars in dairy products.
“I think it’s really important that they focus on added sugars, which is not the same as naturally occurring sugars,” he said. This matters in the context of lactose in milk. Since it is a naturally occurring sugar, it is not the main focus of the committee’s emphasis in lowering consumed sugars.
Dairy is a protein, too
Another area that the dairy industry needs to continue touting is its protein content. Since dairy is its own category, it is sometimes forgotten as an important source of protein. Novakovic informed the audience that dairy products like cheese are briefly mentioned as an alternative to red meats.
“We have some previous research that indicates that people in general are not as aware as those of us in the dairy industry of dairy as a source of protein as perhaps they should be,” he explained. “If you read the dietary guidelines carefully, you will find out there are many places where they talk about dairy as something else you can consume as a source of protein.
“Another thing that comes out to me is that it’s really difficult for them to keep abreast of some of the newer product innovations that we’re seeing in dairy,” he said in making his final point. “We have a bunch of products now that can scratch a bunch of itches that aren’t really recognized in the dietary guidelines. They’re not really excluded; they’re guessed on, but they haven’t really caught up with a lot of product innovation. To me, that represents an opportunity of something we can continue to do.”
He singled out products like ultra-concentrated beverage milk and Greek yogurt, which is currently recognized as a source of protein. However, there is more work to be done in this area, both from an innovation standpoint and a recognition of their roles in healthy diets.
An ongoing series of events
DairyLivestream will air twice each month. The next broadcast will be on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. Each episode is designed for panelists to answer over 30 minutes of audience questions. If you haven’t joined a DairyLivestream broadcast yet, register here. Registering once registers you for all future events.