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How Industry and Government Promote Dairy Junk Foods

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Myth of Natural page.

The U.S. is in the midst of a public health epidemic due to poor diet. While much of the focus has been on obvious culprits such as sugary soft drinks and fast food, dairy foods often get a pass. The dairy industry, propped up by government, has convinced us of the health benefits of milk and other dairy products. But the context of how people consume dairy matters. 

My new report, Whitewashed: How Industry and Government Promote Dairy Junk Foods, shines a light on the shifting patterns of consumption away from plain milk toward dairy products laden with sugar, fat and salt. For example:

About half of all milk is consumed either as flavored milk, with cereal, or in a drink. 

Nearly half of the milk supply goes to make about 9 billion pounds of cheese and
1.5 billion gallons of frozen desserts-two-thirds of which is ice cream. 

11 percent of all sugar goes into the production of dairy products.

It's bad enough for the dairy industry to promote junk food in the name of health, but making matters worse, Uncle Sam is propping up the effort. The federal government mandates the collection of industry fees for "checkoff programs" to promote milk and dairy. Far from being just a privately-funded program, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees attend checkoff meetings, monitor activities and are responsible for evaluation of the programs. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the checkoff programs as "government speech," finding: "the message   is controlled by the Federal Government."             


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