EU promotes milk in schools, but not in Australia yet

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 15th March 2016

MilkThe European Union (EU) is to set aside the equivalent of approximately AUD$365 million annually to promote healthy eating to school children. Meanwhile, Australian governments are lagging behind.

Approved last Tuesday 8 March 2016, according to Dairy Reporter, the new funding will include combining all existing EU school milk and fruit programs into one program.

Any school that receives funds will be required to promote healthy eating, farming and not wasting food. Nearly AUD$150 million of the funding will be used as a milk marketing campaign to encourage children to drink more milk.

The heavy investment in milk consumption promotion comes at a time when there is a global oversupply in milk that is keeping milk solid prices low.

The EU set up its schools milk program in 1977. Between 1951 and 1973, the Australian Federal Government ran a milk program in Australian schools. It was discontinued as the 1973 “Review of the Continuing Expenditure Policies of the Previous Government” report said continuing to run the program could not be justified on nutritional grounds. At the time, the Whitlam-led Labor party government said the dietary benefits of milk consumption were “likely to be minimal beyond the ages of seven”.

Yet despite this conclusion, a 2011 Newspoll Children and Dairy survey commissioned by Fonterra discovered one in five Australian parents find it difficult to encourage children to consume three serves of dairy a day.

The survey also discovered Australian teenagers were least likely to consume three serves of dairy daily, with 26 per cent of 16 – 17 year olds not reaching the serving amounts recommended by the national dietary guidelines.