7 September 2001

Union condemns anti-milk group

THE NFU has attacked an animal rights group which has pledged to continue targeting children with anti-milk propaganda despite being told to stop the campaign by the advertising watchdog.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld three complaints about cards handed out to children by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The cards, each headlined Milk Suckers, feature four cartoon characters, Spotty Sue, Chubby Charlie, Windy Wendy and Phlegmy Phil. Each character is meant to illustrate an affliction caused by drinking milk.

On Wednesday (Sept 5), the ASA concluded claims made on the cards were "unacceptable". It said the cards "irresponsibly encouraged children to stop drinking dairy milk" and were "likely to cause some children undue fear and distress".

The authority told PETA to "stop distributing the cards immediately" and "not to repeat the approach". The ruling followed complaints by the NFU, the Dairy Council, The Royal Agricultural Society of England and NFU Scotland earlier this summer.

But the welfare group, which is backed by Paul McCartney, is undeterred. A PETA spokesman told FARMERS WEEKLY it is printing 100,000 new cards and the campaign will resume in mid-September. &#42

"We are re-writing the cards replacing the hyperbole with more factual information," he said.

NFU deputy president Tim Bennett said: "PETAs determination to distribute these cards to children in primary schools despite the ASAs ruling shows how desperate they are.

"The campaign was based on lies and misinformation that falsely attacked milks vital role in the healthy development of bones, teeth and skin."

A PETA spokesman said there is clear scientific evidence of a link between drinking milk and spots, obesity, flatulence and phlegm.

He also refuted claims about nutritional benefits of milk. "It would be hard to find anyone not in the payroll of the dairy industry to say that."

However, Food Standards Agency deputy chairman Suzi Leather confirmed: "Milk is a particularly good source of nutrition for young children. It is the most nutritionally complete food."