The dairy industry is pushing for milk and milk-based beverages to be added to health claim labelling rules to combat a proposal to ease health claim labelling for electrolyte sports drinks (special purpose foods) such as Gatorade and Powerade.

The move would allow milk drinks to be labelled and promoted in convenience stores for rehydration after exercise-induced fluid loss.

Chief executive of the Australian Beverages Council, Geoff Parker, said in a recent article in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper that he welcomed the dairy industry’s push for labelling rights, if there was research that proved milk’s effectiveness to athletes.

While nutritionist Rosemary Stanton objected to easing restrictions to allow health claims on sports drinks, she had no objection to milk being included. However, Jane Martin from the Obesity Policy Coalition was against chocolate milk with high added sugar being promoted as healthy.

Dairy Australia has made a submission to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) under consultation P1030 – Health Claims – Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods & Electrolyte Drinks. The submission concerns claims under the Food Standards Code for which there is evidence that dairy foods can provide the same benefits as special purpose sports foods.

“The dairy industry would like facility to present dairy foods to appropriate populations (those taking part in vigorous physical activity) where evidence supports delivering the same benefits for the same purpose as special purpose foods like electrolyte drinks, and permission to communicate these benefits,” Dairy Australia said.

“Recent research from Griffith University found milk-based drinks are more effective rehydration options compared with traditional sports drinks, which adds to the existing body of evidence.”

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