Dairy campaign makes false health claims, ad watchdog rules

Animal farming is a major source of ammonia . Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

Dutch advertising standards authority RCC has ruled that a campaign to promote dairy products is ‘misleading’ and must be changed.

The Dutch dairy organisation NZO’s campaign, called ‘The Netherlands runs on dairy’ contains incorrect and misleading claims and information, the RCC said in its ruling, accord to animal welfare lobby group Wakker Dier. The ruling has not yet been published on the RCC website.

Wakker Dier reported 28 misleading claims on the NZO campaign website, 12 of which were upheld by the RCC. ‘Much of the information was just too slick and misleading when it comes to animal health, human health and sustainability,’ Anne Hilhorst of Wakker Dier said.

One complaint, which was upheld by the RCC, centred on the claim that milk is healthy, even though many cows have health problems caused by the drive to increase production and efficiency. Three in 10 cows suffer udder infections every year and 25% to 70% suffer from hoof problems, Wakker Dier claims.

The NZO was also ticked off for claiming dairy is part of a healthy diet and that the government’s healthy eating agency Voedingsinstituut is encouraging dairy consumption.

The saturated fat and salt content of whole milk and most cheeses is too high for dairy to be called healthy, the RCC said. Neither types of dairy figure in the ‘Schijf van vijf’ – the institute’s daily diet recommendations.

The NZO’s claims that dairy farming has ‘an optimal feed and manure cycle’ and that it is ‘sustainable’ were also both labelled misleading. ‘If this were true the Netherlands wouldn’t be struggling with a nitrogen pollution crisis,’ Hilhorst said.

The NZO, which said it was happy that most of Wakker Dier’s claims had been refuted, said it would appeal against the ruling.

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