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22nd October 2021 – Dairy UK brought together internationally renowned academics from the field of nutrition, sustainability and agriculture as part of an exclusive event for Healthcare Professionals (HCP’s) earlier this week, tackling the complex reality behind dairy and sustainable diets.

The special webinar, Chaired by the host of BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme – Sheila Dillon, offered HCP’s the opportunity to hear from and question a number of renowned experts, whose work explores the intersecting, and often conflicting priorities, at play when it comes to what defines an environmentally friendly diet.

Dr Brad Ridoutt of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia explored the role of dairy in lower impact diets. In his work, he had modelled the interplay between environmental impact, nutrition and affordability. The results showed that dairy foods have a clear place as part of a nutrient-rich low emission diet.

Professor Alice Stanton from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. Professor Stanton demonstrated that nutrient rich foods like dairy are protective against a range of non-communicable diseases and stunting. Professor Stanton went on to urge caution when listening to those seeking to radically change our diets, and remove nutrient rich foods as their calls are often not based on peer reviewed or transparent data. This, she said, could lead to unintended consequences to human health and result in a rise in the global burden of disease.

Professor Frank Mitloehner presented, an expert in the area of agriculture and livestock emissions from UC Davis, California put forward a clear picture of global greenhouse gas emissions and outlined clearly the stark difference in lifespans of the different gases involved, with CO2having a much longer life. He explained how biogenic methane is actually part of an age old cycle which breaks down in the atmosphere, which with the right balance will not add to further warming, and can actually be part of global cooling.

NFU Dairy Board and current UK Dairy Roadmap Chair Michael Oakes gave our guests the opportunity to hear about what dairy farming looks like here in the UK. He also provided insight into the UK Dairy Roadmap, showing how the industry had for over a decade been delivering on sustainability and moving on a journey towards Net Zero.

Commenting, Dr Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK said: “Health professionals today are in a position where they are expected to know about the environmental impact of foods as well as their nutrition value.

“Yet, they are not experts in environments and as busy professionals are not in a position to spend time researching the ins and outs of the environmental and wider sustainability of all foods that make up our diets. As a result, they are subjected to the rhetoric and noise that is pervasive around foods like dairy rather than being able to hear from those working in the area.

“We were delighted to be able to bring our UK health professionals together with a renowned set of speakers who showed them that when you’re evidence-led rather than emotion led, there’s no simple solution when it comes to a sustainable diet. They also clearly showed that despite what many may say, nutrient rich foods like dairy have a place in a climate friendly diet and are important in delivering on human health.”