Alan Bjerga, NMPF: Happy New Year and welcome to the Dairy Defined podcast. The latest edition of the dietary guidelines for Americans has been released, and it’s a good one for dairy. The report maintains its recommendation three servings a day, it recognizes dairy’s role in providing key nutrients, and it notes that about 90% of the U.S. population isn’t getting enough of it.
Here to discuss all of this is Miquela Hanselman, she is the Manager for Regulatory Affairs at NMPF and was the organization’s point person on the dietary guidelines. Thanks for joining us, Miquela.
Miquela Hanselman, NMPF: Thanks for having me Alan, and Happy New Year.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: Walk us through the report Miquela. What step was taken last week and what are some of the key points for dairy?
Miquela Hanselman, NMPF: So yes, we got a New Year’s gift. The official policy document was released, meaning the final product and dietary guidelines for the next five years are in place now, and dairy is in a good place. So three servings of low-fat and non-fat dairy are continued to be recommended in the healthy U.S. and vegetarian diets, and dairy remained its own group.
In addition, dairy was recognized as a source of under-consumed nutrients, which are also known as nutrients of public health concern. And these are vitamin D, potassium, and calcium, and iodine for pregnant women.
And then in the first ever healthy eating guidelines that were put together for zero to 20 for children, zero to 24 months of age, dairy was included as a complimentary food for infants starting at six months of age. And for toddlers 12 to 24 months, 1.5 to two servings of dairy were recommended. Dairy was also seen as a nutrient dense core element in healthy eating dietary patterns.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: So why does all this matter?
Miquela Hanselman, NMPF: Well first and foremost, the dietary guidelines look at the latest nutrition science, and they put together these guidelines for Americans to kind of have some nutrition guidance to know what they should be eating to be healthy. But the guidelines also influence and determine what can be offered in federal nutrition programs. Including, for example, the school lunch program and what milks can be served, making these super important because those programs are feeding millions of kids every day.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: Are there any areas where you wish the guidelines could have done more?
Miquela Hanselman, NMPF: The biggest area I think the guidelines could’ve done more … And this is something National Milk has been working on is the recognition of the newer science on full-fat dairy. In even the last iteration of the guidelines, there was science out that was starting to show that full-fat dairy has neutral or beneficial effects on the health of people.
But unfortunately, they once again failed to acknowledge this science and only non-fat and low-fat dairy is still being recommended. But we’ll keep pushing on and, hopefully, in the next round they’ll recognize the newer science on full-fat, or at least acknowledge that there is room for full-fat dairy in a diet within this 10% saturated fat limit.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: Let’s talk a little bit about some of these limits because, of course, our interest is specifically with dairy. But the dietary guidelines work as a whole, and if you’re looking at the entire guidelines, one of the big headlines that came out of this was the government pulling back from the advisory committee’s recommendation on a reduced number of calories allowable in added sugars. You see a lot of talk about that, why maybe the federal government didn’t go as far as the committee. Does that affect the environment for dairy going forward at all?
Miquela Hanselman, NMPF: Honestly, not really for us. If the added sugar limit had been dropped to 6% of the daily calories, then there was some worry about what that would mean for flavored milks and sweetened yogurts as there could have been increased pressures on schools to cut added sugars in different places.
But on that note, even if it had been dropped to the 6%, flavored milks would still have qualified for the school lunch program and be perfectly fine. And it should be noted that some added sugar can increase the palatability of healthy foods for kids. It was a give and take on this one, but no it doesn’t really impact dairy.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: So, what happens now? We have these guidelines, you have the presentation. Hooray till 2025?
Miquela Hanselman, NMPF: Yeah, we get to work on the 2025 guidelines. USDA will be working to roll out their MyPlate materials and educate consumers, schools, and everything on anything that’s changed. And basically we begin planning for 2025.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: Anything else important for us to know before we let you go?
Miquela Hanselman, NMPF: As always, make sure you get your three servings of dairy, low-fat, non-fat, or full fat if that’s what you choose, and have a great New Year. Hopefully 2021 will be better.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: Well, thank you again, as always, for joining us Miquela. Where are you right now?
Miquela Hanselman, NMPF: I am actually in upstate New York on my parents’ dairy farm where I’ve been throughout all of COVID.
Alan Bjerga, NMPF: And that is it for today’s podcast. And here’s a New Year’s suggestion, make dairy defined your resolution. You can subscribe to us on Apple podcasts, Spotify, SoundCloud, Google Play, and iHeartRadio. We’ll talk again soon.