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Suffer the children

Busy week in dairy, with everything from improving prices for milk ingredients globally to research showing that dairy is an excellent source of protein (yes, we knew) and more research being sought to prove that dairy is helpful for sports nutrition. Then there’s the drop in milk deliveries to school children in two states in Germany.

In some ways, we get conflicting trends. The positive is the research. The European Union is funding more school milk, but leaving the guideline implementation to the member states. So, two states in Germany are using the EU funding and cutting their own funding, it seems, and then making logistical demands on the supplying company, FrieslandCampina Germany. Or, not letting children buy milk daily. Instead, they’ll get it free once a week. And skipping out on chocolate milk, which we all know is a winner with school children.

As Gabriele Johag, head of School Milk at Friesland Campina Germany in Cologne, explains, “The guidelines of the two regional governments are probably well-intentioned, but it gives the dairy industry as well as the schools and kindergartens, difficult logistical tasks. The ideas of the regional governments are hardly compatible with the school day and school milk sales. We sincerely regret this decision, because school milk has been part of the school day for generations.”

Indeed it has. We should be working to make dairy available more widely to school children, not less. If people shun dairy, they miss out vital nutrients such as potassium, calcium and vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin. Dairy is one of the most cost-effective sources of protein going, as the recent study shows. And once a week is not enough to ensure adequate nutrition, particularly for children. I think Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate should revisit the changes, and work with their supplier, to ensure that good nutrition does not get dropped at the school gate.

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