The health of a growing number of people is being brought into question as the dairy industry battles the introduction of a new sweetener.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has been accused of stifling scientific debate, as it attempts to limit the availability of a product which many consumers have used for decades.
This article originally appeared in The Conversation.
It is republished here with permission.
Listen to the ABC’s Breakfast program on the ABC Radio National website.
A dairy farmer in New South Wales has launched a campaign to fight back against the dairy lobby’s “unsweetened” almond milk, which he says is not free of sugar.
“It’s very sweet,” he said.
“They’ve got all these labels saying they’re free of any sugar.”
In NSW, there are around 4,000 dairy farms.
But many of these farms are not certified, meaning many consumers may be unaware that they are eating dairy at all.
The industry has tried to keep almond milk out of the spotlight, but has now introduced its “unprocessed” version, which has been blamed for “crazed” consumer behaviour.
“The unprocessed almond milk is much, much worse, but they keep it out of sight,” Mr Hensley said.
He’s joined by a group of other farmers in an effort to convince the FDA that the product is free of sucrose and added sugars.
“We want to tell them that this is not the almond milk that is being sold in supermarkets in Australia,” he told the ABC.
“You’re not getting a good, nutritionally balanced product.”
The company that makes the almond milks products, Nestle, has confirmed that it is in the process of adding the unprocessal version of the product.
But it has not yet made it to the market, so far.
The dairy industry has been quick to criticise the decision, saying that the “unnatural” ingredients in the milk do not pose any health risks.
The FSA says it has received more than 1,500 comments on its comments section, which was launched on Tuesday, and has not responded to repeated calls for comment.
Dr Mark Robinson, a nutritionist at the Australian Institute of Dairy Science, said the FDA was trying to “sabotage the public’s perception of dairy products”.
“The consumer’s perception is the product itself is healthy,” he wrote in an email.
“However, there is no scientific evidence that unprocessable milk is a good source of energy for people, and it is not safe for children or pregnant women.”
He also noted that some of the products were already on supermarket shelves, while others were still in development.
“I can’t think of any dairy product that’s been developed to be more nutrifying,” he added.
Dr Robinson said that Nestle was also adding ingredients that had not been proven safe to consume, such as lactose, and added that it was a “misguided approach” to a product that was already on store shelves. “
What they’re saying is that you’re not buying an unprocessing product.”
Dr Robinson said that Nestle was also adding ingredients that had not been proven safe to consume, such as lactose, and added that it was a “misguided approach” to a product that was already on store shelves.
He also warned against confusing the unrefined almond milk with the unsweetened almond milk.
“In many cases, we know that the unsynthetic product is more palatable,” he explained.
“But you can get a good balance between sweetness and protein, without having to use as much sugar as the natural product.”
Mr Hentsley said he had already heard from customers who were unhappy about the change.
“This is a very small minority of people who are going to be affected,” he admitted.
The dairy lobby says it is working to protect the safety of consumers. “
Some of the people I’ve spoken to are just shocked that we’re doing this.”
The dairy lobby says it is working to protect the safety of consumers.
“Almond milk is nutrific, but it’s a product with no added sugars,” a spokesperson told The Conversation in a statement.
“There is no evidence that almond milk causes adverse health effects, including breast cancer.”
The spokesperson said Nestle had also launched a voluntary recall of the almond products it markets.
“As part of the voluntary recall, the company is also asking consumers to consider whether they would prefer to receive an unrefried product, which is the same product.”
Nestle said it would not be commenting on individual cases, but would provide “appropriate” information to customers about how to contact the agency if they have questions.
In a statement, the Australian Dairy Association said that the safety and quality of almond milk was of “absolute paramount importance”.
“This includes the safety, quality and integrity of all our ingredients, including almond milk,” the spokesperson said.
Nestle’s announcement comes after a new survey found that a third of Australians thought that a product labelled as “natural” was healthier than a “natural food”.
The Australian Institute for Food Technology also found that only