Dairy UK has responded to calls from an influential committee of MPs to extend the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to milk-based drinks.

It follows the publication of recommendations from the Health and Social Care Committee on Wednesday (May 30) into childhood obesity.

The group of MPs published their report as the UK government prepares to release its updated childhood obesity plan over the next few weeks.

Dairy UK chief executive Dr Judith Bryans said: “Dairy UK supports the principle of what the committee is trying to achieve. However, we do not agree with the extension of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to include all milk-based drinks. This would have a detrimental impact on the marketing of high quality, safe and nutritious dairy products – products which are nutritionally beneficial to children rather than being harmful.”

“Milk and dairy products are proven sources of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iodine, vitamin B12, and riboflavin as well as protein, making dairy an important part of a healthy, balanced, affordable and sustainable diet. Regrettably, because of the way the Nutrient Profiling Model has been developed dairy products end up being penalised alongside junk foods.”

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy, introduced in April, currently applies to drinks containing more than 8g of added sugar per 100ml. Those with 5-8g of sugar per 100ml are taxed at a lower rate.

Products with less than 5g of added sugar are exempt, along with fruit juices, products without added sugar, and dairy-based drinks.