The government must stop sending mixed signals about dairy products and get behind the industry, Dairy UK chief executive Judith Bryans has said.

Public health messages were knocking the nutritional benefits of dairy products at the same time as DEFRA was encouraging dairy farmers and processors to grow, Dr Bryans told MPs, peers and industry leaders at the All Party Parliamentary Cheese Group’s spring reception.

She said DEFRA should be working with the Department of Health and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to support a “confident and vibrant sector”.

“Dairy UK believes that asking the industry to grow on the one hand and knocking the nutritional benefits of much-loved products such as cheese and yoghurt – with their age-old traditions in the UK – on the other, it sends mixed signals to the industry about government support,” Dr Bryans said.

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“The dairy sector is therefore urging politicians and civil servants to voice their support for dairy and help educate consumers about the unique contribution cheese and other dairy products make to health, the economy and the environment.”

Dairy UK will be launching its Dairy Makes a Difference campaign later in the spring to show the public how the industry creates healthy products, provides jobs and looks after the environment.

It will also publish a white paper about the links between public health and dairy products.