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WMMB Makes Changes to Online Dairy Facts
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 10/20/2011

The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board in Madison has made some changes on its website after a nonprofit journalism group disputed some of its material dealing with the nutritional facts of various dairy products. On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism issued a press release noting that WMMB has updated its site's content relating to the roll dairy products play in weight loss.

The issue came into forefront over the past week after the WCIJ began publishing stories examining the check-off program's nutritional advice to consumers. A University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism class, which began investigating the milk board in collaboration with the WCIJ, said WMMB's weight loss claims had been on the Internet for at least eight months. But WMMB Communications Director Patrick Geoghegan says those materials have been evaluated and since removed.

"Over the past few weeks we have reviewed some of the nutrition messages and have made some changes to closer align our weight control message with the healthy diet message," Geoghegan told the journalism watchdog group.

On Monday, the WCIJ issued its first statements about the issue on its own Website. That article did mention that the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, which supervises the milk board, has never filed a complaint about them with the state Department of Justice.

In its investigation, the WCIJ interviewed nutrition experts at Harvard University and the Mayo Clinic, who pointed to limitations in the studies supporting the milk board's claims. Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, said any tie between dairy consumption and enhanced weight loss has been discredited by research not funded by the National Dairy Council.

National dairy marketing groups halted similar claims four years ago after the Federal Trade Commission intervened with a fact-checking effort. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2010 dietary guidelines state that 'strong evidence in adults and moderate evidence in children and adolescents demonstrates that consumption of milk and milk products does not play a special role in weight management.'

Yesterday's press release also noted that a registered dietitian with the WMMB has said in previous interviews that they didn't know the board's website included claims about dairy and weight loss. But Geoghegan said the board's consumer messages were based on sound, often peer-reviewed research that is continuously updated.

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