Milk: Friend or Foe?

It was an unusual conflict. The antagonists represented two groups that usually try to work together. On one side were members of the medical research community, and on the other was a major player in American big business. What exactly was going on? Scientific community members through their research publications were, in effect, taking to task the forces of the American Dairy Association. The clear contention of their medical research was that the Association was engaging in misleading advertising by using the slogan "Everybody needs milk." When the Federal Trade Commission looked into the matter, they came to a surprising conclusion: they agreed solidly with the researchers and issued a "proposed complaint" citing that the slogan "Everybody needs milk" represented false, misleading, and deceptive advertising.

This FTC judgment in 1974 called attention to a consistent strategy of the dairy industry: devise marketing slogans and approaches that impress people with the healthfulness and desirability of milk products. Some of these slogans, often accompanied by an attractive athlete or a beautiful person with a white rim at their upper lip, are summarized:
- Milk, What a Surprise
- Real Men Drink Milk
- Everybody Needs Milk
- Milk is a Natural
- Milk is the Perfect Food
- Milk: Drink It For All It´s Worth
- Milk Drinkers Make Better Lovers
- Milk Has Something For Everybody

It is one thing to try to awaken a desire for a service or product?after all, that is the basis of most advertising that bombards us from day to day. But it is quite another thing to pass something off as health giving if it really is not. In view of this, the 1974 decision of the Federal Trade Commission raised a very important issue. Why would the government step into the fray and disallow a claim that most Americans accept? Whether it is today´s U.S. Department of Agriculture´s Food Guide Pyramid or the four food groups of yesteryear, the implication for decades has been that all Americans do indeed need milk. What, then, could have prompted the FTC to object to the dairy industry´s saying that "everybody needs milk"? The answer to the question forms the basis for this chapter. Immediately after the 1974 decision, the dairy industry changed their slogan to "Milk Has Something for Everybody." Although no one challenged the accuracy of that slogan, the real question is: do you really want that "something"?

Medical experts have known about health problems with milk for decades, but these concerns have not received much publicity. We need to recognize that it is very difficult for preventive medicine messages to be heard clearly when powerful commercial interests are putting millions of dollars behind promulgating a message of half-truths.

The late Dr. Frank Oski was head of the Johns Hopkins Children´s Medical and Surgery Center for 10 years and professor of pediatrics and department chairman at Johns Hopkins University. He was editor and founder of the journal Contemporary Pediatrics and was a member of the editorial board for The European Journal of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. He authored or co-authored 300 academic papers and 20 books, including the recently published The Practical Pediatrician. He was not only a credible scientist, but was also one of the most vocal advocates of the dangers of cow´s milk. Dr. Oski wrote the well-documented and very readable book, Don´t Drink Your Milk. Perhaps one of the greatest contributions of his book is its demonstration of the broad extent of health problems linked with milk drinking. From his book and other sources, we have drawn up a list of our 10 major concerns with the childhood health effects of cow´s milk. The childhood concerns are listed: allergies, Iron-deficiency anemia, lowered intelligence, "milk sensitivities", early atherosclerosis, juvenile diabetes, acne, rheumatoid arthritis, dental decay, infection diseases.

For more informations see:
- Proof Positive by Neil Nedley