FDA provides temporary flexibility regarding packaged-food nutrition labeling in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – dairyfoods.com


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Full-fat dairy okay for kids: Aussie review gives weight to calls for guidelines change – DairyReporter.com

Full-fat dairy okay for kids: Aussie review gives weight to calls for guidelines change

Lead author Therese O’Sullivan, an associate professor at Edith Cowan University’s School of Medical and Health Sciences, said the findings highlighted the need for better evidence in the area of childhood dairy nutrition.

Dietary guidelines in Australia and other countries recommend children primarily consume reduced-fat dairy products to maintain a healthy weight and good cardiovascular health​,” she said.

We found studies were consistent in reporting that whole-fat dairy products were not associated with increased levels of weight gain or obesity​.”

Reduced-fat dairy is generally recommended for both adults and children over the age of two years due to its lower energy and saturated fat content.

If a child is growing well, guidelines suggest parents switch to low-fat dairy products starting at two to protect children from the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease.

However, O’Sullivan’s team found studies suggesting that children who consumed low-fat over full-fat dairy were actually replacing those calories from fat with other foods.

This suggests that low-fat dairy is not as filling as whole-fat dairy, which may lead kids to consume more of other foods. Health effects may depend on what these replacement foods are​.”

With childhood obesity a serious issue in Australia—the government estimates that 28% of children and adolescents are either overweight or obese—the need for evidence-based guidelines for parents has never been greater, according to O’Sullivan.

“Parents are already overwhelmed by conflicting advice for kids’ nutrition, especially when it comes to full-fat versus low-fat dairy​,” she said.

We need more good quality research to inform evidence-based guidelines for parents, even if that means rethinking what we thought we knew about dairy​.”

O’Sullivan also said whole-fat dairy may play an important role in a balanced diet for growing children.

Dairy is a good dietary source of nutrients for healthy development, including protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and several vitamins​,” she said.

Even though the fats found in whole-fat dairy are mostly saturated fats, they don’t appear to be associated with the same detrimental health effects observed with foods like fatty meats​.”

Published in Advances in Nutrition​,​ the Edith Cowan research reviewed 29 studies from around the world that examined consumption of full-fat dairy products in children.

The researchers found there was no clear link between the consumption of whole-fat dairy products and weight gain, high cholesterol or high blood pressure in children. However, most studies were observational, with a lack of reliable trials noted.

O’Sullivan is also leading Edith Cowan’s Milky Way Study in collaboration with the University of Western Australia and the Telethon Kids Institute.

This randomized controlled trial is the first of its kind anywhere to investigate the effects of dairy fat intake in children. The results are expected midway through this year.

For most kids milk is a very important part of their diet, but we don’t really have enough evidence suggesting whether we should be giving them low-fat or full-fat dairy products​,” she said when the study began in 2017.

Traditionally, we think of dairy fat as bad fat because it’s mostly saturated fat, but as we see more evidence come out we are realizing that not all saturated fat is the same and there may be something about dairy fat that makes it different to other fats and potentially has some health benefits​.”

The trial has taken 54 Australian kids between 4-6 years old, who were given popular dairy brands for three months, though parents were not told if these were low- or full-fat.

The Milky Way Study team also believe that full-fat dairy could help gut bacteria and heart health for better cholesterol and blood pressure.

Moreover, they suspect drinking whole milk could even help children increase strength by boosting the brain’s connection with muscles to make them work better.

The recently published Edith Cowan review sides with another review from Canada in January that found children who drank whole milk had a 40% lower risk of being overweight or obese.

None of the 28 studies from seven countries that it looked at—which involved a total almost 21,000 children between the ages of one and 18— showed kids who drank reduced-fat milk had a lower risk of being overweight or obese.

Last August, the Australian Heart Foundation’s own review led to new dietary recommendations regarding dairy for adults, which gave full-fat a clean bill of health.

At the time, Heart Foundation chief medical adviser Garry Jennings, advised: “We have removed our restriction for healthy Australians on eating full-fat milk, cheese and yogurt. While the evidence was mixed, this type of dairy was found to have a neutral effect, in that it doesn’t increase or decrease your risks for heart disease or stroke​.

Given this, we believe there is not enough evidence to support a restriction on full-fat milk, yogurt and cheese for a healthy person, as they also provide healthy nutrients like calcium​.”

According to Nutrition Australia, most Australians don’t include enough dairy in their diet. Most children also need to increase their intake of the dairy food group in order to meet recommendations.

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Dairy Products and Breast Cancer Risk: What to Know – Healthline

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Researchers from Loma Linda University Health said even moderate amounts of daily dairy milk can increase breast cancer risk. Previous studies have come to different conclusions. Getty Images
  • New research from Loma Linda University School of Public Health concludes daily consumption of dairy milk can increase breast cancer risk.
  • The researchers said they didn’t find any increased risk for cheese or yogurt.
  • Other experts point out that previous studies have arrived at different conclusions.
  • The experts say moderation is key when it comes to consuming dairy products.

Do dairy products, particularly milk, increase the risk of breast cancer?

It might depend on the research you’re reading.

A new study suggests that drinking dairy milk daily, even in small amounts, can increase your risk of getting breast cancer as much as 80 percent.

The findings from a team of researchers at Loma Linda University School of Public Health in Southern California were recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

“We found that at relatively low doses of dairy milk, less than a cup a day, there was a steep rise in the risk of breast cancer” said Gary E. Fraser, MBChB, PhD, a professor in the School of Public Health and Medicine at Loma Linda University and the study’s lead author.

“At a cup a day, we were seeing more than a 50 percent increase in risk,” Fraser told Healthline. “At 2 to 3 cups per day, the risk increased 70 percent to 80 percent.”

The researchers analyzed nearly 8 years of data from 52,795 women in North America.

Their median age was 57 and about a third of them were black women.

The women answered questionnaires about their food intake.

Fraser said about half of the women followed a vegetarian diet and drank soy milk. The others drank dairy milk.

The researchers adjusted for factors such as alcohol consumption, physical activity, hormones, and reproductive history.

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the United Kingdom’s World Cancer Research Fund.

Fraser said the results surprised researchers.

“We actually set out originally to investigate the soy breast cancer connection,” he said. “While doing that, it became clear we had to make an adjustment for dairy.”

All the women were cancer-free at the outset, but researchers discovered that 1,057 of the women developed breast cancer.

The scientists said they found no association with breast cancer and soy milk, but they did find a higher risk with dairy milk, regardless of its fat content.

They didn’t find the same risk factors with cheese or yogurt.

They also didn’t determine why milk might cause an increased risk.

“That’s the big question and that’s where the research needs to go,” Fraser said. “While one study doesn’t prove a point, I think our study is a good study. The results are strong, indicating something is going on.”

Other experts interviewed by Healthline said the latest study is interesting, but they note that past studies have shown conflicting results.

“I think it’s a very interesting study in a unique population,” said Marji McCullough, ScD, senior scientific director of epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society.

“The women in this study are unique in that they consume a lot of soy and much lower amounts of milk than the general population,” she told Healthline.

“Most studies in non-vegetarian cohorts have not shown drinking milk increases breast cancer risk,” she noted. “It has been inconsistent. Some have shown that drinking milk lowers breast cancer risk, some have shown no association, and a couple have shown positive associations.”

She pointed to the Continuous Update Project by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, which does continual analysis of research literature.

“When you look at the totality of the evidence, we’re not seeing an increased risk of breast cancer with greater milk consumption,” she said.

Susan McCann, PhD, RD, is a professor of oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York.

Her team of researchers investigated links between the types and quantity of dairy products consumed and the risk of breast cancer.

Their findings were published in Current Developments in Nutrition in 2017.

“Contrary to the results of the IJE paper, we found a weak, not statistically significant, 15 percent reduction in breast cancer risk with total dairy intake,” she told Healthline.

“Higher intakes of yogurt were associated with statistically significant lower breast cancer risk. Higher intakes of American, cheddar, and cream cheeses were associated with a borderline significant increased risk,” she added.

We asked each of the experts what consumers should think about when the information from studies is at odds.

“I would take the dietary recommendation of 3 cups of milk a day with some caution until this is all worked out further,” Fraser said. “If I had family members who were at high risk of breast cancer, I might recommend plant-based milk until we have a clearer picture of this.”

“This study is worth further consideration and more research. Moderation is always a good idea, but I don’t think women need to be alarmed if they drink milk,” McCullough said.

“Dairy is a rich source of many nutrients that can otherwise be challenging to consume in adequate amounts,” McCann said. “Moderation is key and a selection of lower fat dairy is at least beneficial for weight management and chronic disease risk.”

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Dean Foods to be sold to Dairy Farmers of America – WEAU

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) – Dean Foods is the largest milk processing company in America.

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In November, the company announced it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, due to declining milk demands. The DFA announced they had reached an agreement to purchase 44 of Dean’s facilities; a move that has some worried about the power DFA now holds. UW-Extension Agricultural Agent Lyssa Seefeldt says she can understand why some farmers may be concerned.

“DFA is the largest dairy cooperative, so I think that is where the concern comes in that you’d have the largest co-op owning the assets of where that milk could potentially end up,” she says.

Dairy Farmers of America is the largest dairy co-op in the country, representing over 14,000 farmers.

“Because they are that farmer-owned co-op, they have a little bit of leverage because they have the assets that could come in to be able to purchase those dean foods assets, where some other entity might not have the capacity to bring in the capital to make that purchase all at once,” Seefeldt says

Seefeldt also says some farmers may worry about the control the DFA will have after the merger.

“That is I think were some of the concern comes in is, that there might be potential that you have one large entity that owns where that fluid milk might be going,” she says

Wisconsin is obviously known as “The Dairy State.” But in terms of production, it should be called “The Cheese-Making State.”

”The impact for Wisconsin dairy farmers is probably not going to be a big thing we feel, because we are largely a cheese making state,” Seefeldt says. “If Wisconsin was a country in its own right, it would be the third or fourth largest cheese producer in the world.”

Dean Foods only has one plant in all of Wisconsin, located in De Pere. Seefeldt says she believes DFA is just trying to protect its farmer members.

“I think the intent is just making sure they have an outlet for that milk,” she says.

The price for the deal is reportedly a base of $425 million dollars. Dean Foods produces milk under brands like Dairy Pure and TruMoo, as well as dairy products under Land O’Lakes and Organic Valley.

In a news release sent to WEAU, the Dairy Farmers of America President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith say, “As Dean is the largest dairy processor in the country and a significant customer of DFA, it is important to ensure continued secure markets for our members’ milk and minimal disruption to the U.S. dairy industry. As a family farmer-owned and governed cooperative, no one has a greater interest in preserving and expanding milk markets than DFA. We are pleased that we have come to an agreement on a deal that we believe is fair for both parties.”

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Wisconsin, International Cheese Makers Compete As Consumer Demand For Specialty Dairy Grows – Wisconsin Public Radio News

More cheesemakers and other dairy producers are competing in a Wisconsin-based contest in hopes of differentiating their product in an increasingly crowded market.

The World Championship Cheese Contest will be held in Madison in March. The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which hosts the contest, announced last week that they’ve received a record number of entries this year.

Officials said 3,667 cheeses, yogurts, butters and other dairy products were submitted, which is an almost 8 percent increase over the last record-setting contest in 2018. The entries come from 26 different countries and 36 states in the United States.

Rebekah Sweeney, communications director for the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, said more producers want to compete for the chance at increased business that comes with winning a title.

“Cheesemakers who have won our competition in the past tell us that in the 24 hours after the competition, their phone rings off the hook and they do incredible amounts of business,” Sweeney said. “We know that many of them end up with long-term contracts with distributors and other cheese buyers because of their success with the contest.”

Abby Despins is communications director for Emmi Roth, a cheese company in Fitchburg that won the world championship in 2016. She said the company quickly sold out of their winning cheese, Grand Cru Surchoix, after winning the title and continued to take orders for the nine-month aged variety.

“We’ve heard that from other cheese makers as well,” Despins said. “Which is really fantastic for especially local cheese makers. That really impacts how they grow in their awareness of their brand.”

Despins said Emmi Roth entered around 20 cheeses across different categories of the contest this year. And she isn’t surprised to see the number of contest entries increase because more cheesemakers are creating new specialty varieties to keep up with consumer demand.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found per capita consumption of non-American style cheese grew to 22.5 pounds per person in 2018. That’s 18 percent higher than it was in 2008.

“People really want to find, kind of that treasure hunt of new, exciting foods to try. And because there are so many cheeses out there and just such a wonderful world of discovering new cheeses, I think that specialty cheese really fits well into that consumer search,” Despins said. 

While most of the World Championship Cheese Contest’s categories are for cheese, this year’s competition also includes several new classes of dairy products. There are nine classes for dried milk powders and whey powders, which are commonly used in infant formulas and protein powders.

Sweeney said the association created the new categories after realizing dairy producers were already competing for sales on the international market.

“You definitely see a significant international trade on dried milk powders, particularly in Southeast Asia,” Sweeney said. “People want to be able to say to their potential buyers that their product is the very best and this is one standard by which they can measure themselves.”

The contest also added a new classification for “extra-aged gouda”, contributing to a 35 percent increase in gouda submissions compared to 2018.

French cheese maker Mauleon Fromagerie, known in the U.S. as Savencia Cheese USA, was named the 2018 World Champion for its sheep’s milk cheese Esquirrou.

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The Import of Dairy Products Industry in China, 2020-2024 – ResearchAndMarkets.com – Business Wire

DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The “Research Report of Import of Dairy Products Industry in China 2020-2024” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering.

Report Scope

  • Major factors influencing dairy product import in China
  • Dairy product import in China
  • Major sources of China’s dairy product imports
  • Comparison of prices of domestic and imported dairy products
  • Prospect of dairy product import in China from 2019 to 2023

Chinese people will have a growing demand for dairy products as their income increases. However, domestic dairy production has limited growth potential as restricted by several unfavorable factors, and faces rising costs. Therefore, the annual import volume and import value of dairy products in China will continue to grow.

Some Chinese dairy producers are acquiring overseas dairy enterprises to make profits from exporting dairy products to China. It is evident that the Chinese market presents huge opportunities to global dairy producers.

With the development of China’s economy and the arise in Chinese people’s living standards, the per capita consumption of dairy products in China keeps rising.

Despite the increasing demand for dairy products, the domestic production of dairy products sees a rather anemic growth. In 2018, the apparent consumption of dairy products in China reached about 31.79 million tons, representing a CAGR of about 2.7% from 2013 to 2017, according to the publisher. However, the production volume of dairy products in China grew at a CAGR of only 2.1% during the same period.

The main reasons for the sluggish growth include: (1) The costs of domestic dairy production in China are higher than the global average as affected by the costs of feed, labor and land, and the low profitability inhibits the production growth; and (2) Chinese people lack confidence in domestic dairy products as safety incidents occurred frequently in China’s dairy product industry in the recent decade. The above factors drive the growth of dairy product imports in China.

According to China Customs, in 2018, the import volume of dairy products in China reached 2.74 million tons, up by 7.80% YOY; the import value reached USD 10.65 billion, up by 14.80% YOY. The dairy products imported to China include milk powder, liquid milk, cheese, etc., with milk powder taking the major share. In 2018, milk powder imports contributed nearly 70% to the import value of dairy products in China. The milk powder imported to China includes infant formula milk powder, raw milk powder, etc. China needs to import a large quantity of infant formula milk powder because its consumers lack confidence in the safety of domestic counterparts; and import raw milk powder because the imports are of low prices and high quality.

The growing imports of dairy products have had some impacts on China’s domestic dairy producers, for example, the decline in sales revenue and profit margins. Therefore, the Chinese government introduced restrictive policies on dairy product imports. For example, to restrict the import of infant formula milk powder, on Jan. 1, 2018, the China Food and Drug Administration put into force the Measures for Administration of Registration of Formulas of Infant Formula Milk Powder which stipulates that infant formula milk powder that has not been registered in China is not allowed to be sold in China, and the Certificate of Registration of Formulas of Infant Formula Milk Powder must be obtained according to the law for imported infant formula milk powder to be marketed in China.

On Mar. 14, 2018, the Announcement of the State Certification and Accreditation Administration on Renewing the Registration of Overseas Manufacturers of Imported Infant Formula Milk Powder specified that the registration of overseas producers of imported infant formula milk powder would be valid for four years and should be renewed upon expiration. These policies are expected to drive away more than 80% of the over 2,000 imported brands (products) of infant formula milk powder on the Chinese market.

Key Topics Covered

1 Overview of Dairy Products Industry

1.1 Definition of Dairy Products

1.2 Classification of Dairy Products

1.3 Industry Chain of Dairy Products

1.4 Research Methods of the Report

1.4.1 Parameters and Assumptions

1.4.2 Data Sources

2 Development Environment of Dairy Products Industry in China

2.1 Economic Environment

2.2 Policy Environment

2.2.1 China’s Policies on Dairy Product Import

2.2.2 China’s Import Tariffs on Dairy Products

3 Supply and Demand of Dairy Products in China

3.1 Supply of Dairy Products in China

3.2 Demand of Dairy Products in China

4 Analysis on Import of Dairy Products Industry in China

4.1 Analysis on Import of Dairy Products in China

4.1.1 Import Volume of Dairy Products in China

4.1.2 Import Value of Dairy Products in China

4.1.3 Average Import Prices of Dairy Products in China

4.2 Analysis on China’s Reliance on Dairy Product Imports

4.3 Analysis on Sources of China’s Dairy Product Imports

4.4 Analysis on Dairy Product Imports by Type in China

4.4.1 Import Volume of Dairy Products by Type in China

4.4.2 Import Value of Dairy Products by Type in China

4.4.3 Average Import Prices of Dairy Products by Type in China

4.5 Comparison between Prices of Domestic and Imported Dairy Products

4.5.1 Average Prices of Domestic Dairy Products

4.5.2 Comparison of Average Prices of Domestic and Imported Dairy Products

5 Analysis on Import of Dried Dairy Products in China, 2013-2018

5.1 Analysis on Dried Dairy Products Import in China

5.1.1 Apparent Consumption of Dried Dairy Products in China

5.1.2 China’s Reliance on Dried Dairy Products

5.2 Analysis on Milk Powder Import in China

5.2.1 Apparent Consumption of Milk Powder in China

5.2.2 China’s Reliance on Milk Powder Imports

5.2.3 Analysis on Price of Global Milk Powder

5.2.4 Analysis on Import of Raw Milk Powder in China

5.2.5 Analysis on Import Value of Raw Milk Powder in China

5.2.6 Average Import Prices of Raw Milk Powder in China

5.3 Sources of China’s Dried Dairy Products Imports

5.3.1 Sources of China’s Milk Powder Imports

5.3.2 Sources of China’s Cheese Imports

5.3.3 Sources of China’s Whey Imports

5.3.4 Sources of China’s Cream Imports

6 Analysis on Liquid Milk Import in China, 2013-2018

6.1 Analysis on Liquid Milk Import in China

6.1.1 Import Volume of Liquid Milk in China

6.1.2 Import Value of Liquid Milk in China

6.2 Average Import Prices of Liquid Milk in China

6.3 Analysis on Apparent Consumption of Liquid Milk in China

6.4 Analysis on China’s Reliance on Liquid Milk Imports

6.5 Analysis on Sources of China’s Fresh Milk Imports

6.6 Analysis on Sources of China’s Yoghurt Imports

6.6.1 Import Volume of Yoghurt in China

6.6.2 Import Value of Yoghurt in China

6.6.3 Average Import Prices of Yoghurt in China

6.6.4 Analysis on Sources of China’s Yoghurt Imports

7 Prospect of Dairy Products Imports in China, 2020-2024

7.1 Factors Influencing Dairy Products Imports in China

7.1.1 Market Driving Force and Opportunities

7.1.2 Threats and Challenges

7.2 Forecast on Dairy Products Imports in China, 2020-2024

7.3 Forecast on Demand of Dairy Products Imports in China, 2020-2024

For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/awf56a

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Officials Dismiss Rumors of High Levels of Toxins in Dairy Products – Financial Tribune

Recent allegations spread by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting that milk in Iran is contaminated with excessive levels of aflatoxin has hurt the domestic dairy industry and further reduced per capita consumption of milk, Mohammad Reza Shanehsaz, the head of Iran Food and Drug Administration, said.  
“Iran’s per capita milk consumption was already lower than the global average i.e. roughly one-fifth of the global average and has now reduced even more due to the misleading information disseminated by an official media outlet like TV,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
“This is while Iran enforces milk production standards that are more stringent than those in the European countries. Such unfounded rumors have unfortunately created problems for exports by our renowned dairy brands, so much so that the Federation of Iranian Food Association had no choice but to initiate legal action against the source of this rumor.” 


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Breaking up with your favorite foods – Harvard Health

Heartburn and indigestion are not the hallmarks of a good relationship.

They say that breaking up is hard to do, and that takes on new meaning when you’ve had a love affair with certain foods. But sometimes our bodies can no longer tolerate our favorites, forcing us to say goodbye to everything from onions, beans, and jalapeos to yogurt and marinara sauce. “Anyone over 30 knows that our body doesn’t always work the way it once did, and that gets worse as we get older. The upper and lower digestive tract seem most susceptible to the changes of aging,” says Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

Suspicious sweethearts

The naturally occurring sugars known as FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) can become harder to digest in older age. These include sugars found in dairy products, wheat, rye, onions, garlic, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), honey, pistachios, cashews, asparagus, and artichokes, among other foods. Some fruits (including mangos, pears, and peaches) contain FODMAPs, as do drinks with fructose or certain artificial sweeteners. Dr. Staller says we don’t always know what makes a person develop sensitivity to particular FODMAPs. We do know that eating FODMAPs can result in cramping, diarrhea, bloating, and gas.

Missing from the relationship

Some people have difficulty digesting dairy products because their bodies don’t produce enough lactase — the enzyme necessary to break down lactose, a naturally occurring sugar in dairy foods. A small number of people are born lactose intolerant; in most other cases, lactase production declines over time, so that people lose their ability to digest lactose as they get older. “For reasons we don’t fully understand, the genes that control the ability to make lactase can be switched off as we age,” Dr. Staller says.

Burned by love

Peppers, tomato sauces, and many other foods (such as citrus, chocolate, peppermint, and fatty and fried foods) can worsen heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, the tube connecting the mouth and stomach, usually because the ringlike muscles that prevent backflow stop working properly. GERD can cause a burning feeling in the chest, a sour taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, a sore throat, or coughing.

You deserve better

Rather than suffer the consequences of an unhappy digestive tract, stop fighting and move on. There are plenty of fish in the sea — or in this case, options for new foods to love.

Replacing dairy products is easiest. You can find lactose-free milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products that have had the offending sugar removed. You can also try plant-based “milk” products, such as almond, cashew, oat, rice, and hemp milks; yogurts; and even ice cream. Soy and lactose-free milks are good sources of calcium and protein.

“But you will have to make sure grain and nut milk products are fortified,” advises registered dietitian Kathy McManus, the director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “And watch out for added sugars. Many of these milks are flavored, and some of them have almost as much sugar as soda. Go for the unsweetened kind.”

Spice up your food life

There are many alternatives that may satisfy your need for spicy food without triggering heartburn. “Ground ginger, horseradish, wasabi, cinnamon, hot mustard — those kinds of things may bring a little spice or heat without all that pepper or red sauce,” McManus suggests. “But introduce foods slowly, to see how they’re tolerated, and back off if symptoms return.”

Where have you “bean” all my life?

Beans and other legumes are a major source of plant-based protein for many people. If those FODMAPs don’t agree with you, consider protein-rich firm tofu (made from soybeans, with FODMAPs removed). If it’s the bean texture you’ll miss, try rice (ideally brown, not white), quinoa, polenta, and gluten-free breads or pastas, which are all FODMAP-free.

In fact, there are replacement possibilities for all FODMAP foods. Instead of blackberries, try blueberries; ditch onions for fennel bulbs or the greens of scallions; swap out pistachios or cashews for almonds or peanuts; and pass up peaches in favor of papayas. For more information, check out the Harvard Medical School Guide Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (www.health.harvard.edu/IB).

Reuniting with an old flame

Can’t stay away from your favorite foods? Take heart. “You might not get symptoms if you eat smaller amounts,” Dr. Staller says.

Other tips:

  • “You can reduce the heat in fiery dishes by adding a dollop of dairy — such as sour cream — or increasing the amount of other ingredients, such as vegetables, to dilute the heat,” McManus suggests.
  • Tamp down the heat in peppers before cooking by rinsing them, removing the seeds and ribs, roasting them, and removing the skin.
  • Rinse canned beans before cooking them to reduce the amount of gas-producing sugars.
  • Use an enzyme supplement with lactase to help you digest dairy; or use Beano, a natural enzyme product that helps sensitive guts digest oligosaccharides.

And remember: healthy, long-term relationships — including with food — take work. With a little effort, you can enjoy many more years of symptom-free food bliss.

Image: Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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How did we get here? – Farm and Dairy

The supply problem

At its core, the issue is about supply and demand. Right now, the market says farmers are producing more milk than is being exported or consumed domestically. That’s according to Dianne Shoemaker, a field specialist in dairy production economics with Ohio State University Extension. Shoemaker knows dairy.1 She’s been with OSU Extension for more than 30 years. She also lives what she teaches. She owns a 150-head dairy farm, in Mahoning County, Ohio, with her husband.

Too much milk and not enough demand for that milk equals low prices. Milk production was up to 218 billion pounds in 2018 nationally, a 1% increase over 2017, according to the annual Milk Production Report released by the USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service in March 2019.2 Overall, national milk production has increased 15% in the past decade, the data shows. According to the most recent milk production report, production in 2019 was just ahead of 2018.

So, why can’t someone just tell farmers to produce less milk? Canada has a production control system for its dairy industry. Should we adopt something like that? That has its own issues we don’t have time to discuss here. And the U.S. tried its own version of production control in the 1980s (see: Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983). It didn’t work long term.

Shoemaker said one of the problems is that farmers have to make decisions at the farm level. They’re not thinking about the world around them and all the mechanisms at play. They are thinking about the things they can control. One of them is how many cows they milk. When prices are low, farmers milk more cows to have more milk to sell. When prices are high, they do the same to make up for what was lost when things were bad. So the answer has always been … milk more cows, no matter what? Yes, you read that right.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” Shoemaker said.

[embedded content]

On top of that, milk production tends to increase every year on a per cow basis, thanks to improvements in genetics and management. If farmers did not increase herd size to make more milk, they’d be making more milk anyway.

And, in general, the average dairy farm size is increasing. In Ohio, there were 68 dairy farms with 500 or more cows, according to the 2012 USDA-NASS Census of Agriculture. Five years later, Ohio had 75 farms with 500 or more cows. There was even one farm with 5,000 or more cows. Shoemaker said 30 years ago, a farm could support three families milking 150 cows. Now, a typical farm would need to milk 300-500 cows to support that many people.

The demand problem

It’s true that people aren’t drinking as much milk as they used to. There are a couple of things people point to as the cause. One is that there are a lot of beverage options now.

The National Milk Producers Federation is focused especially on plant-based dairy alternatives — think: almond milk. The federation is fighting against allowing these products to use terms like “milk” and “cheese” in the labeling, arguing that it’s misleading and confusing to consumers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration took public comment on the issue in early 2019, but hasn’t pursued any action yet.

A line graph showing the falling consumption of fluid milk.

The sale of plant-based milk alternatives and other dairy alternatives continues to grow each year, according to data compiled for the Plant Based Foods Association.3

Others point to changes in the National School Lunch Program under the Obama administration as the culprit. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 took away flavored milks unless they were fat-free. The low-fat versions were brought back in 2019 after the rules were relaxed by the Trump administration. The USDA claimed children weren’t drinking as much milk when limited to fat-free.4

Here’s the thing, though. In the U.S., milk consumption has been on a slow decline for decades. In 1975, people consumed 247 pounds a year per capita, according to USDA-compiled data.5 It was down to 146 pounds per person in 2018.

Dairy consumption in the U.S. is actually up, however. It’s crept up from 539 pounds per person per year in 1975 to 646 pounds per person in 2018, the USDA numbers show. Americans are consuming more yogurt, butter and cheese than they did 40 years ago. Cheese consumption saw tremendous growth, especially non-American varieties.

But it’s butter that’s been the savior of the industry in the past five years, said Peter Vitaliano, chief economist with the National Milk Producers Federation. “If the price of butter had not recovered, dairy farmers would’ve been much worse off,” he said.

During a time when the price of milk has been lackluster, the price of butter has been “quite strong,” Vitaliano said. After years of being told butter was bad for its saturated fat content, research in the last decade walked that back, and consumers reacted quickly. “They like the taste of fat. They were tired of being told it was bad for them. They went back to consuming butter big time,” Vitaliano said.

But butter can’t save the dairy industry alone. Neither can cheese or yogurt, although we’ll talk more about cheese in another story. Maybe people should just drink more milk? It’s not that easy.

The world around us

Dairy products that people don’t consume directly play a lot into the equation. Both at home and abroad. The U.S. is a leading exporter of skim milk powder, whey products and lactose. These things become ingredients in other food products and animal feed.

“The world market has a huge impact on what’s going on in dairy farms all over the United States,” Vitaliano said.

Exports of dairy products grew from just under $1.6 billion in 2004 to nearly $6.8 billion in 2014, according to a USDA-Economic Research Service, or ERS, report from November 2016.6 During this time, the U.S. became the world’s third-largest dairy product exporter, behind New Zealand and the European Union.

The rapid growth happened for a bunch of different reasons, the report stated. Income growth in Asia and Latin American led to increased dairy consumption. Market-based reforms in China made it a big dairy importer. Free trade agreements and reduced domestic support for dairy products launched the U.S. into world markets.

The value of U.S. dairy exports fell in 2015, for a bunch of other reasons: global dairy demand slowed, milk supply quotas were discontinued in the European Union and the U.S. dollar strengthened, among other things, according to the report. Things haven’t really picked up, Vitaliano said.

“It’s critical we get exports growing again,” he said.

Exports might be the answer to lagging milk consumption, or at least part of it. When milk production outpaced demand domestically, exporting dairy products helped fix that problem for a while. When exports slowed down, milk prices slumped.

“What happens half a world away can hit hard on the farm,” Vitaliano said.

Problems at home

So that touches on supply, demand, the entire world … but what’s going on at home?

Farmers are feeding their cows, milking their cows and trying to make ends meet. It’s been tough to do that when milk prices are lower than the costs of producing that milk. Feed costs are the most important part of a dairy farmer’s budget. The margin between the price received for milk and the price paid for feed is what makes or breaks a farm.

Years ago, farmers didn’t have to pay close attention to the margins because feed prices were low and relatively stable, Vitaliano said. Corn was about $2 a bushel and soybeans were $5 a bushel. Then, the price of grain became volatile, “driven by ethanol mandates and a big export demand for U.S. grain,” he said.

The price of corn surged in 2006, going up about a dollar in a year to about $3 per bushel, according to ERS data. Prices continued upward until about 2012, when farmers were getting paid about nearly $7 per bushel. The higher cost of feed didn’t impact small farmers as much. Those farmers tended to grow their own feed, so they actually benefited some when the price of corn increased.

“The milk price went up enough to cover the higher cost of feed. If you were producing your own feed, you got an extra boost in your margins,” Vitaliano said.

When feed costs came down — it’s about $4 per bushel for corn now — so did the milk price. Farms that were buying feed breathed a sigh of relief. But smaller farms got squeezed, Vitaliano said.

“Small farmers that were marketing grain through their cows, they weren’t making money on that either. Milk prices stayed low. They were squeezed in two places,” he said.

The times they are a-changin’

In the past, Vitaliano said farmers could usually count on every third year being a good one. They could weather a couple bad years, but the third one would come along and things would turn around.

Prices recieved for Milk by Month - United States. Dollars per cwt

Now it’s been nearly five years of low milk prices. It started in 2015. The statistical uniform price per hundredweight dropped from $19.74 in December 2014 to $16.67 in January 2015, according to Mideast Marketing Area Federal Order 33 statistics.7 That’s about 15% in 30 days. The lowest lows came in 2016. The price hovered around $14 for the first half of the year, hitting a low of $13.81 per hundredweight in May.

Things weren’t much better in 2017 and 2018. Farmers who were relying on that third year to be better are being stretched thin, and some are being forced to call it quits. Shoemaker wrote in her October Dairy Excel column in Farm and Dairy that 262 Ohio dairy farms ceased milk production from October 2018 to October 2019.8 That’s 80 more farms than the year before.

Things began looking up early this year, though. Milk prices began improving in March. The November statistical uniform price was $18.01 per hundredweight. That’s $2.33 higher than the price in November 2018. But for a lot of farmers, it’s too little, too late.

“The farms that had higher costs of production are still struggling to meet cash flow obligations,” Shoemaker said. “If they’re still milking, the challenge is ‘how do I adjust so I can better survive the next downturn and recover from this one.’”

In a business that is powerfully impacted by things that are out of their control, what are dairy farmers to do to steer their own destinies? They can milk more cows. We talked about that already. It’s problematic for the industry as a whole, but it can be the answer for the individual farmer. They can also control milk components, or how much milk fat and protein is in the milk. That’s the single biggest way a farm can impact its milk price, Shoemaker said. Farmers are paid more for higher percentages of milk fat and protein.

Some farms rely on diversification, whether that’s also running a grain business, using some of their milk to make cheese or raising other livestock. We’ll talk more about some of those farmers in coming weeks. Otherwise, it’s all about management, Shoemaker said. Managing production, finances, people, cows and land.

“Not thinking of it as a business has gotten a lot of people in trouble,” Shoemaker said.

Shoemaker said that was a fundamental shift that happened in the 1980s. People used to think of farming as just a way of life. Now, it needs to be more like “farming as a business so you can have it as a way of life,” she said. To be sustainable, a farm has to first be profitable.

“You have to be making money to do things the way we want to do them, to conserve those natural resources,” Shoemaker said.

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