Under the proposal, dairy products such as butter and cheese will be levied at 25 kroner per kilo. The Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Eva Kjer Hansen stressed that the reason for this taxation proposal is to ensure that consumers make healthy food choices, a final goal to which also elements such as pricing, labelling and consumer information should contribute.
However the Danish dairy industry has challenged the reasons for such a tax, stating that dairy products are make a substantial contribution to nutrient intake of the Danish population and is therefore part of the daily healthy diet. The industry have highlighted that milk consumption in Denmark has changed towards skimmed milk in the last years and that a variety of dairy products with different energy content are already available. Without regulatory intervention and due to different reasons saturated fat intake in Denmark decreased by 25% in the last decade showing that there is no need for a regulation on saturated fat.
During the half-day conference, attended by more than 50 scientific and political stakeholders, Prof. Bruce German from the University of California, presented evidence from the past five years that has changed the view and understanding of the effects of fat on cholesterol metabolism. He stated that dietary cholesterol is not affecting blood cholesterol. Scientific evidence does not support the assumption that saturated fat intake should be as low as possible as this is often considered as “zero”. Moreover, Prof. German suggested that, in personalized diets, appropriate doses of saturated fats are likely to have a beneficial impact.
Professor Peter Elwood form Cardiff University presented the results of a meta-analysis and systematic review of all cohort studies on the association between dairy and health. He presented some remarkable results: milk consumption is associated with a 19% reduction in heart disease, dairy foods are associated with a 21% reduction in diabetes, and milk tends to reduce risk of stroke
In conclusion, it seems clear from the scientific findings presented and the observations made, policy options for saturated fat need to be reconsidered before adopting a blanket approach to policy for saturated fats. The total overall positive contribution of dairy products to health and wellbeing must also be remember when considering such policy.
For your information, additional articles on diary fats, are available here.