Public Health England in March released its new Eatwell guide, similar to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and My Plate (the old food pyramid). England’s top dairy association was quick with a critique, calling the recommendations “baffling and disappointing.”

“Dairy products remain a key part of the Eatwell guide which is important for the nation’s diet, but the decision by Public Health England to reduce the dairy food group in the revised ‘eatwell plate’ is both baffling and disappointing,” said Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK, London.

“In the UK, dietary guidelines disregard an ever-growing body of robust, science-based evidence which stresses the importance of dairy consumption at all ages,” she said. “It is genuinely disconcerting to see that the dairy food group being disadvantaged by a public health campaign. At a time when obesity is a real crisis for children and adults alike, nutrient-dense whole foods such as dairy products should be put front and center in dietary guidelines.”

Bryans said Public Health England’s decision goes against a series of recent public announcements and reports which show a better understanding of the role of milk and dairy products in a healthy and balanced diet by government and parliamentarians.

“Looking outside our borders, a long list of countries such as France, Canada, Australia and many more have had successful 3-a-Day dairy consumption programs for years which all emphasize the importance of dairy foods,” Bryans said.

“The dairy industry was not consulted during this process and had no opportunity to give scientific evidence or help prevent serious flaws in the guidelines. For example, we do not believe that vulnerable groups such as breastfeeding women or teenage girls can practically meet their needs for calcium or iodine using the new eatwell plate. We need to understand how Public Health England reached their conclusions. Therefore, we will request all documents behind this decision and we will conduct our own modelling once these documents are made available,” Bryans said.