The milk industry has rubbished claims by Heather Mills McCartney, who is divorcing ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, that dairy products are damaging people’s health.

Her comments were attached to a report from the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation delivered to the Department of Health yesterday (24 May).

Animal rights campaigner Ms Mills McCartney, who is a patron of VVP, said: “The more I discover about dairy, the more I know being vegan is the right choice.

“Dairy is far from being a wonder food but is, in fact, a contributor to many diseases, which horrifies me.”

The report, White Lies, calls on the government to end its support for dairy farming, stop subsidised school milk and promote plant-based alternatives.

Dr Justine Butler, the author of White Lies, said that cow’s milk and other dairy products were behind an array of illnesses, including cancers, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity.

Juliet Gellatley, director of the VVP, said: “This report places dairy where it belongs – at the heart of a worsening public health crisis.”

Professor Jane Plant, another supporter of the report, said “The evidence shows that milk is a complex biochemical cocktail that sends all the wrong messages to our bodies I believe that dumping the dairy from my diet saved my life.”

Milk is “healthy”

But Dr Judith Bryans, director of The Dairy Council, said the claims were irresponsible, biased and inaccurate.

Removing all dairy products from the diet could have serious health implications, she said.

It was important to remember that Ms Mills McCartney and Professor Plant were not qualified dieticians or nutritionists and their views were based on personal experiences, she added.

“While we appreciate that eating an alternative, elimination diet has helped some people to deal with their health problems, it is important not to over emphasise the individual experience of one person to the detriment of balanced, scientific opinion.

“Milk and dairy foods form part of the government healthy eating guidelines, known as The Balance of Good Health.

“Most nutritionists agree that these foods are an important source of calcium in the diet as well as providing other nutrients such as proteins, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and zinc.”

McCartney divorce

Ms Mills McCartney was due to appear in person when the report was handed over and to participate in a public talk Why you Don’t Need Dairy.

However, she decided not to attend following publicity surrounding her recently announced split from pop star Paul McCartney.

A spokesman said: “Heather fears that there is a great danger that the conference will be about her and obscure entirely the important message that the White Lies report needs to communicate.”

It was reported that subsequent attendance at the event was poor, following Ms Mills McCartney’s decision to pull out.