Right of Reply: The managing director of the National Dairy Council argues that milk is safe

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The Independent Culture
FOLLOWING CLAIMS that milk-drinking is linked to Crohn's disease, I would point out that in its earliest stages the human species was an opportunistic feeder that soon recognised the beneficial properties of milk. Milk is bought by 95 per cent of all households. We drink four pints a week per person; it is one of our most complete foods.

What makes milk so good is the remarkable range of essential nutrients it contains. As well as protein, all the known vitamins required in the diet are present. Calcium we all know about - a must for strong bones and teeth, and of paramount importance in preventing osteoporosis. And, yes, it contains fat - around 4 per cent in whole milk, 1.7 per cent in semi-skimmed - one glass of which contains less fat than two plain digestive biscuits.

No wonder most of the nation's mothers cannot imagine life without milk, as they told the National Dairy Council in a recent survey.

To ensure that they are not disappointed, the UK's 34,000 dairy farms produce the equivalent of 39 million litres a day. Cows that are unhealthy, stressed or overworked produce less, not more milk, and of inferior quality. And, by the way, milk from cows on antibiotics is taken out of the milk supply. So it's a key objective of responsible, profit-conscious farmers to keep their cows in a healthy condition.

Far from being a quick fix, pasteurisation has for more than 50 years brought healthy milk and dairy products within everyone's reach. Maff's pilot research findings are unconfirmed, which is why the dairy industry welcomes its proposed new survey into the microbiological quality of milk.

In the meantime, experts agree that pasteurised milk is safe to drink. And you don't even have to go back to being a nomad to appreciate it.