Walorski Urges HHS Secretary to Oppose Harmful WHO Dairy Nutrition Guidance

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Walorski Urges HHS Secretary to Oppose Harmful WHO Dairy Nutrition Guidance

WHO Ignores Scientific Evidence of Benefits of Milk to Child Nutrition and Development

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today in a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee urged Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Tom Price to advocate against the misguided World Health Organization (WHO) guidance recommending limits on the promotion of milk products for children.

“I’m concerned about the impact the WHO’s guidance could have on children throughout the globe,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “I’m concerned that, for no good reason, bureaucrats at the WHO are leaving parents and caregivers without a critical tool that aids in a child’s growth and development, and preventing doctors from sharing information on the full range of options available for a child’s healthy development.

BACKGROUND

In 2016, the WHO issued guidance on “Ending the Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children,” recommending new restrictions and prohibitions on the promotion and marketing of milk products for children up to three years of age.

At the urging of the U.S., the World Health Assembly stated that any implementation of the recommendations in the WHO guidance should be done in accordance with each nation’s needs and international obligations. However, WHO is incorrectly presenting the guidance as a new international standard and pressuring governments to implement its recommendations. As a result, a number of countries are drafting new laws to prohibit marketing of imported milk products consumed by children up to the age of three, as well as other restrictions.

Walorski earlier this year led a letter signed by 16 of her colleagues urging Secretary Price to work with the U.S. Trade Representative, Department of Commerce, and Department of Agriculture “to advocate against measures being developed by our trading partners to implement the guidance that are not evidence-based, ignore alternative policies that have been proven to achieve the intended public health policy objective and are inconsistent with their international obligations, including those of the World Trade Organization.”

Milk has long been recognized as a vital source of nutrients for children, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children begin consuming milk at age one to aid in growth and development.

Video of Walorski questioning Secretary Price at the hearing is available here. The transcript of their exchange is below.

Walorski: “Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for being here. I had sent you a letter on this, I just wanted to mention it briefly today. But I just wanted to thank you for your incredible leadership as you were talking about being in Africa, your global leadership, your concern about global health.

“I just wanted to bounce a question off of you and share with you my concern with the guidance the WHO Secretariat developed and rushed through last year. It calls for significant new restrictions and even prohibitions on the promotion and marketing of milk products for children up to the age of three. They provided no sound scientific evidence, they conducted no analysis of its potential impact. But now, the WHO is incorrectly presenting their guidance as a new international standard and is pressuring governments to implement it.

“I’m concerned about the impact the WHO’s guidance could have on children throughout the globe. I’m concerned that, for no good reason, bureaucrats at the WHO are leaving parents and caregivers without a critical tool that aids in a child’s growth and development, and preventing doctors from sharing information on the full range of options available for a child’s healthy development.

“I sent you a letter with 16 of my colleagues addressing this, knowing that you’re taking a lead in global health. I just wanted to get your thoughts on this. Did this issue come up a few weeks ago when you were at the World Health Assembly? And what can we do as Congress to maybe be helpful in your efforts on making sure that this does not become a precedent, and that maybe other agencies could use our help as well?”

Price: “I appreciate the question, the inquiry, and specifically to answer your question, no, I didn’t have any conversations about this at the World Health Assembly. But what we did do is begin the relationship development with other nations around the world that are leaders in the area of health care and global health security. So I look forward to gaining this information, getting up to speed on it, and taking this information to other nations who are leaders in the World Health Organization so that we can respond to you appropriately.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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