I’m on a panel for the NYAS’s conference on Conflicts of Interest in Healthcare: Opportunities for Self-Reflection and Action, June 24-25. Location: 7 World Trade Center. 250 Greenwich St, 40th Floor. Information and registration are here. My panel is on the 25th at 10:45 a.m. , Session VI: Hot topic discussion: getting to the truth in nutrition science. Other panelists are Mona Calvo fro Penn State, Mehmood Khan from Life Biosciences, and Linda Van Horn from Northwestern. Moderator is Julia Belluz from Vox.
Raise your hand for chocolate milk?
Thanks to Marlene Schwartz of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale for alerting me to this Associated Press report about the new dairy industry campaign to rescue chocolate milk from the food police. This, you will not be surprised to hear, is the latest activity funded by the milk checkoff program, a USDA-administered program that requires certain commodity producers to contribute funds to a kitty to be used for generic marketing. One such program is MilkPep, the incredibly well funded marketing group that together with the Dairy Council invented the “Got Milk” mustache campaign.
MilkPep is now the proud defender of chocolate milk against efforts to get it out of schools. Why would anyone be so mean as to want to do that? Maybe because chocolate milk has more sugar and calories than plain milk? No matter. MilkPet is stepping up to the plate. Its $500,000 to $1,000,000 “raise your hand for chocolate milk” campaign takes on those pesky nutrition advocates who think that kids ought to be eating something other than sweets in schools.
The rationale for the campaign? If you get rid of chocolate milk, kids won’t drink milk. You will deprive kids of the nutrients in milk and contribute to the “milk deficit.” After all, this rationale goes, chocolate milk is better than soda (Oops. Didn’t we just hear something like this relative to the Smart Choices fiasco?).
OK. Let’s look at what this is really about:
- Schools represent sales of 460 million gallons of milk – more than 7% of total milk sales
- More than half (54%) of flavored milk is sold in schools
- Chocolate milk is a key growth area for milk processors
MilkPep has produced a slide show to help companies take action (I apologize for not linking to it but I have not yet succeeded in uploading a large file, despite many attempts). The slides advise allies to go on a “chocolate milk offensive”:
- Do public relations
- Get bloggers on board
- Engage moms through social media
- Take advantage of SuperBowl ads – the campaign intends to fund one
- Reach out to media
Doesn’t this sound like something ripe for satire? Colbert! We need you!