OCU questions the need for the over 50s to consume nutrient-enriched milk

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

The Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU) has questioned statements that direct people over 50 to a specific nutrient-enriched milk that is 30% more expensive than skimmed milk.

In an analysis of Central Lechera Asturiana’s (CLAS) “Suprema milk” product, the OCU stated it unnecessary for people over 50 to consume a specific milk, citing a diet rich in dairy to be more than adequate for most people.

“Except for specific cases of people with health problems who need personalised and prescribed nutritional treatments, most of the population does not need to eat fortified foods, but it is enough to follow correct nutritional guidelines,”​ the organisation said.

It added that consuming dairy products every day (except those with high fat content such as butter, cream or fatty cheeses) is very important at any age, with consideration given to products that do not have added sugar.

Milk rich in fat-soluble vitamins

According to the OCU, whole milk, sometimes eliminated from diets because it contains cholesterol, may not be the best idea since it has been shown to have little effect on total cholesterol. In addition, whole milk is rich in fat-soluble vitamins such as A and D.

The OCU acknowledged that while it was true that the Spanish population was deficient in calcium and vitamin D, the use of supplements was not always the solution.

A recent study showed no association between the consumption of calcium supplements and vitamin D with a lower risk of bone fractures, concluding that the intake of calcium and vitamin D should be made through food naturally.

Further criticism was aimed at the Spanish-based dairy firm, who according to the OCU had previously produced a product aimed at a specific demographic.

The OCU were particularly scathing in its breakdown of the type of messaging employed to communicate the purported benefits of the specially formulated milk.

According to its advertisements, the Suprema milk "provides everything you need to take care of you after 50"​; a claim, which OCU said, was not justified.

Further analysis of the advertising of Suprema suggested that as it did not contain lactose, it was an easily digestible milk.

The OCU claimed that this statement was not permitted under rules outlined in the European Regulation 1924/2006.

The consumer group added that it had made a request to the relevant Spanish food authorities that are responsible for inspection and sanction procedures against firms making unsubstantiated claims.

Lactose intolerance

In addition, the OCU pointed out that lactose favours the absorption of calcium in the body, so only people with intolerance should avoid its consumption.

“If you are not lactose intolerant and stop eating it, your body will not produce lactase and you could become lactose intolerant,”​ they said. “In short, only people with intolerance should avoid lactose.”

Launched in May of this year, Suprema milk is said to include more essential nutrients needed by adults who require additional maintenance to their bones and muscles.

Created via a natural ultrafiltration method, the milk provides 25% protein, 50% calcium and 100% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D.  Fat and lactose free, the product also claims to have no artificial ingredients.

The OCU said that the ultrafiltration method milk also increased its protein content, from 3.2% to 5%.

“This is a curious enrichment, since the Spanish population has an excessive consumption of proteins with an average of 74.5 grams per day (g/day) according to an ANIBES study. The recommendations are 0.8 grams per kilogram (g/kg) of body weight per day.”

“We must not forget that we must be careful with high protein diets, since they can cause liver and kidney overload, an increase in uric acid and a decrease in calcium absorption.”

Central Lechera Asturiana did not respond to our requests for comment for this article.

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