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The facts about Canadian dairy

Last Updated: February 25, 2019

Dairy is an important part of a sustainable diet

  • A sustainable diet is not only about feeding the world, it is about nourishing people with nutrient-dense food, like milk and dairy.
  • Dairy foods provide high quality protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iodine, and vitamins B2 and B12 that can be easily absorbed in the body.

Quality of food is as important as the quantity

  • It is increasingly recognized that the effects of milk and dairy foods on health extend beyond the benefits of the individual nutrients they contain. Rather, the unique combination of nutrients and bioactive factors, and how they interact with each other in the dairy matrix, combine to produce the overall effect on health.
  • Many people associate milk and dairy with calcium and bone building, but dairy foods offer much more extensive nutritional benefits and are being linked to a variety of positive health effects.
  • The role of calcium in building and maintaining healthy bones is well established, and dairy foods are recognised as important sources of calcium. However, milk and dairy foods also contain other nutrients needed for bone health including protein, phosphorus and potassium (and vitamin D in the case of fortified dairy).
  • Increasingly, the science indicates that nutrients in the dairy matrix work together to help maintain healthy bones. For example, there is some evidence that milk’s calcium may offer longer lasting skeletal benefits than supplements due to its favourable calcium-phosphorus ratio, and that the calcium and protein in dairy have positive interactions on bone health.
  • FAO recommendation is 1000mg.
  • Few other foods naturally contain as much calcium, and dairy sources are some of the most bioavailable.
  • While it is sometimes assumed that supplementation with the same amount of calcium from different sources has comparable effects on bone health, there is some evidence of a beneficial ‘dairy matrix effect’.

The importance of protein in dairy over nuts and other plant-based products

  • Animal source foods are nutrient-rich foods with high quality proteins and other nutrients that contribute to positive effects on development and growth, cognitive performance, micronutrient status and physical activity. The proteins naturally found in milk are unmatched in protein quality and offer benefits across life stages such as reducing stunting in vulnerable populations and assisting in muscle maintenance for healthy aging.
  • Protein quality refers to the ability of the amino acids in foods to adequately meet human requirements for indispensable amino acids. Amino acid requirements vary for specific age groups and physiological conditions.
  • The consequences of inadequate protein intake to meet indispensable amino acid requirements are well known and include stunted growth, increased susceptibility to infection, suboptimal muscle capacity and diminished mental performance (from retardation to apathy).
  • Proteins are among the most important nutrients for normal growth and development of all tissues in the human body. Foods that contain protein are not equally able to meet protein and amino acid requirements of humans throughout the life cycle.
  • Animal proteins such as those from milk and dairy “are known to be superior to plant proteins in several ways”, due to higher protein content, better protein digestibility and more balanced content of essential amino acids. (Grace, 2018)

What is supply management? 

Canada’s supply management system provides balance in the dairy sector by enabling Canadiandairy farmers to act collectively to negotiateprice and adjust milk production to meet consumer demand. While farmers around the world face unexpected and inexplicable wild market fluctuations, Canadian farmers sell their milk at constant and stable prices. As a result, Canadian dairy farming is one of the few agricultural sectors that are self-sufficient—providing income security for farmers and requiring no government subsidy. This means Canadian farmers can invest in their farms, communities and Canada.
Learn more about supply management. 

Love Canadian Milk                                                                                                                                  

The Canadian dairy system isn't just about balancing supply and demand to ensure a fair return for dairy farmers.                 
It ensures Canadians can count on safe, high-quality milk produced by local farming families.                                                             
It keeps artificial growth hormones out of the milk consumers drink. 
It grows the rural economy. It minimizes waste. And it costs taxpayers nothing.                          

Learn more about Love Canadian Milk.  

Know the facts—not the myths

From trade, marketing and innovation. There's a lot of myths about the dairy industry. We've compiled the facts to help consumers make an informed decision. 

Learn more about myths and facts.  

Ontario’s contribution to the economy

In 2017, Ontario’s 3,586 dairy farms produced nearly 3 billion litres of fresh milk. Quality tested twice, the milk in your glass was transported to a local Ontario dairy processor, where it was pasteurized, packaged, and then delivered to grocery stores. All within about 72 hours. These everyday acts supported approximately 74,000 jobs in Ontario and contributed nearly $6 billion to our GDP.

Learn more about the Ontario dairy industry by the numbers.

DFO in the media

Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s (DFO) board and leadership believe it is important to speak to the media on topics related to the dairy industry. This list has been designed to show some of the places where DFO spokespeople have been quoted, and to share the context of their message. The list willbe updated on a regular basis, however we also recommend you visit our social media channels for the most recent information.


Twitter: @OntarioDairy 
Facebook: /OntarioDairy
Questions can be directed to Laural Adams

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