The demonisation of dairy produce has gone on too long, according to Dr Marianne Walsh, Senior Nutritionist with the National Dairy Council. The nutritionist pointed to recent research that debunks claims that dairy products are harmful, particularly because of their high saturated-fat content.

Dr Walsh, was speaking at a recent seminar on ‘Dairy and the Modern Consumer‘ which was hosted by the National Dairy Council (NDC) in conjunction with Dairygold, Ornua and Teagasc. The seminar took place on the farm of award winning dairy farmers John and Maria Walsh in Ballylomasna, Ballylooby, Co Tipperary.

Highlighting the negative health impacts of fad diets, Dr Walsh said consumers are becoming more and more curious about their food choices and the diets that they choose to follow. “There has been a steady rise in fad diets and exclusion diets particularly in the last three years,” she said.

She stressed the importance of consuming dairy products in order to maintain a balanced diet. “Cheese is the glory food,” she said, “as it has a concentrated source of nutrients and recent research suggests that it has a positive influence in reducing the risk of strokes.”

John McKenna, award winning writer and food critic, spoke of making milk ‘sexy‘ and refuted some of the misinformation on dairy products.

His main message was to highlight the ‘magic of milk‘ as a balanced and nutritious food and to challenge those extolling dairy alternatives as the best source of food.

Flavoured products

He suggested producing a greater variety of new flavoured dairy products, just as the high-end craft beers and newly developed craft spirits have done . Mr McKenna believes the dairy industry has the ability to create niche products using milk, yoghurt and butter that will command a higher price than commodity products.