Another day, another article misinforming Canadians comes to Canada’s dairy industry.

August 31st, 2015

Here is the original letter sent to the Globe and Mail concerning an article published on August 27th, which misinforms its readers about Canada’s dairy industry.

Another day, another article whose sole purpose seems to be to misinform readers when it comes to Canada’s dairy industry. In his article titled Milk sales continue to slide as diets, society shift away from dairy, author Eric Atkins, along with Sylvain Charlebois and Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, offer a one-sided and misleading look at the drop in Canadian milk sales.

As the article correctly notes, the per-capita consumption of fluid milk in Canada fell by 18% between 1995 and 2014. What the article fails to mention is that the pattern of decline in fluid milk consumption in Canada mirrors a similar decline in many other developed countries. As a matter of fact, in the United States, milk consumption is now at its lowest historical level, having declined by 19% between 1995 and 20131. However, more importantly, another fact that has been left out by the author from his analysis altogether: in Canada, the decline in the consumption of fluid milk has been more than offset by a corresponding rise in the consumption of other dairy products. These include a significant uptick in the consumption of cream (+86% between 1995 and 2014), cheeses (+1% between 1995 and 2014) and yogurt (+204% between 1995 and 2014)2.

Mr. Charlebois goes on to argue that “We have these super cows producing a lot of milk, and a lot of consumers don’t see anything natural in that. And that’s why some Canadians just reject that”. Unlike most of what Mr. Charlebois argues, the Canadian dairy industry couldn’t agree more with this particular point. This is precisely why rBST, a growth hormone used by other jurisdictions including the US to increase milk production, is illegal here in Canada – a policy which Canadian dairy farmers fully endorse.

Finally, Dr. Freedhoff’s claim that the evidence supporting the health benefits of drinking milk is ‘not particularly robust’ is a complete fabrication. The nutritional and health benefits of consuming milk and milk products are well documented, supported by decades of research, and have been consistently reinforced by nutrition and scientific communities from around the world. The sum of the scientific evidence to date, as well as the consensus of authoritative organizations, indicate that consuming 2-4 servings per day of milk and other milk products is beneficial to bones and healthy weight, and reduces the risk of conditions including: cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. Dietary guidelines and nutrient recommendations are established by public health authorities, based on the advice of committees of nutrition and health experts, and are specific to the needs of each country.

The Canadian system promotes safe, high quality and nutritious products, while stimulating local economic activity. In a recent survey by Environics, 91% of Canadians said that it was important that the milk products they consume come from Canadian producers. It is clear that Canadians trust Canadian dairy, for good reason.

I would end this by urging the authors to trust the good judgement of their readers by presenting a balanced account of the facts when it comes to Canadian dairy.

1 Source: University of Wisconsin and International Dairy Federation. Note: 2014 milk consumption is not available.

2 Source: CDIC

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