Gigha dairy farmer’s school milk bid rebuffed

Don and Emma Dennis run the Wee Isle Dairy on Gigha, off Kintyre, where they produce whole milk from their 60-strong cow herd.

But when the local primary asked them to supply 15 litres a week they were stopped from doing so by a Scottish Government ruling stating that only skimmed, or semi-skimmed milk, can be given to pupils in schools, as part of efforts to counter child obesity.

The refusal was relayed to Mr Dennis by his local MSP Mike Russell in the shape of a document from government education minister John Swinney.

Mr Dennis told The Scottish Farmer: “I understand the Scottish Government is following Brussels guidelines on this matter. If true, then if there was ever an argument in favour of Brexit this is it.

“The government policy is based on simple nutritional notions, that for example, equate butterfat with tallow. Both are lumped under the heading saturated fat. The policy has never examined the 29 studies that examine the possible link between whole milk and childhood obesity. In these studies the evidence found either no link, or else an inverse link, meaning the consumption of whole milk by children tends to reduce the likelihood of obesity,” said Mr Dennis.

“Our local head teacher asked if we were willing to supply the school. Currently the milk comes from Stirlingshire instead of two miles up the road. We take our milk to the school for our son to drink and the head, who is prevented from talking to the press, has told us if any other parent wants to do the same they can.

“The government policy to ban whole milk is plain daft,” he added. “If you drink a glass of whole milk, hunger is satisfied. Drink semi-skimmed and a child typically follows it up with a snack. Perversely, the Scottish Schools policy has a pudding offered to the children every lunchtime.”

Robert Brown, of nutrition think tank the McCarrison Society said: “Whatever is causing obesity in Scotland, it is not whole dairy products which provide important nutrients including vitamins A, D, K and E.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Semi-skimmed milk is proven to have the benefits of full fat milk, including high levels of calcium with much lower levels of fat. We set nutritional standards for local authorities, this includes guidelines recommending the serving of skimmed or semi-skimmed milk only.”

Me Dennis concluded: “The fight goes on. Once the matter is re-examined I am certain the head of policy in the Scottish Government will see how ill-thought through and misguided the present schools milk policy is.”


Source: The Scottish Farmer


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