Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Stay connected:   
Education Materials
Dairy Download Subscribe
Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question that's not answered here? Try searching our site or contact us.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

About National Dairy Council
What is National Dairy Council?
Does National Dairy Council run the "got milk®?" program?,

Dairy's Health Benefits
What are the health benefits of dairy foods?
How do dairy foods help build stronger bones?
Should I avoid dairy foods if I'm concerned about maintaining my weight?
How do dairy foods help reduce blood pressure?
How can someone with lactose intolerance still enjoy dairy foods?
How is lactose intolerance different than a milk allergy?

Dairy Nutrition
What nutrients are in dairy foods?
How many servings of dairy foods should I eat every day?
How much calcium do I need?
Why can't I just take a calcium supplement?
What are nutrient-rich foods?
What's the role of dairy foods in government nutrition guidelines?
Is organic milk better for you than regular milk?

Child Nutrition
What is dairy's role in child nutrition?
How much milk should a child or adolescent consume each day?
Are milk allergies common in children?
What is Fuel Up to Play 60? 

Food Safety  
How and why is milk pasteurized?
What can I do at home to help protect my family from food-borne illness?
Are dairy foods antibiotic-free?
What can you tell me about rbST hormone and milk?
Who should I contact if I have questions about food safety?

Recipes and Education Materials
Where can I find recipes using milk, cheese and yogurt?
Where can I find free educational materials that I can use at a school, health fair or community health center?

About National Dairy Council
Q. What is National Dairy Council?
A. National Dairy Council (NDC), the non-profit organization funded by the national dairy checkoff program, is committed to nutrition education and research-based communications. NDC provides science-based nutrition information to, and in collaboration with, a variety of stakeholders committed to fostering a healthier nation, including health professionals, educators, school nutrition directors, academia, industry, consumers and media. For more information, visit About Us.

Q. Does National Dairy Council run the "got milk®?" program?
A. The got milk®? Milk Mustache marketing campaign is funded by the nation's fluid milk processors. The multifaceted campaign is intended to stimulate awareness and demand for milk as well as to educate consumers and correct misconceptions about milk. A series of educational brochures for consumers is available by visiting the milk Web site at www.whymilk.com. Got milk?® is licensed by the National Fluid Milk Processor Education Board.

Dairy's Health Benefits
Q. What are the health benefits of dairy foods?
A. Together, dairy foods provide a powerful package of nine essential nutrients—including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins D, A, B12, riboflavin and niacin (niacin equivalents)—that helps keep bones strong and bodies healthy. Studies show dairy foods, when consumed as part of a healthy diet, improve overall diet quality and may help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, obesity, colon cancer and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that can lead to heart disease and type-2 diabetes). To translate that to the pocketbook, a 2004 report demonstrated that if adult Americans increased their intake of dairy foods to three to four servings a day, over $25 billion could be saved in unnecessary healthcare costs in just the first year. 

For more information, see our Dairy's Health Benefits page.

Q. How do dairy foods help build stronger bones?
A. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that consuming adequate amounts of calcium or foods naturally rich in calcium such as milk, cheese and yogurt throughout life may delay or minimize age-related bone loss and thereby decrease the risk for osteoporosis. According to analyses, all but two of 70 randomized, controlled intervention studies demonstrated that calcium intake increases bone gain during growth, reduces bone loss with age, and/or reduces fracture risk. Also, more than three-quarters of 110 observational studies supported calcium's beneficial role in bone health. Calcium intake to meet daily recommendations continues to be a critical concern. Milk and milk products provide nearly 75 percent of the calcium available in the food supply. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognizes that people who consume more dairy foods have better overall diets, consume more nutrients and have improved bone health.

For more information, see Dairy's Role in Bone Health and Dairy's Role in Adolescent Bone Health.

Q. Should I avoid dairy foods if I'm concerned about maintaining my weight?
A. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends three cups of low-fat or fat-free milk or milk products every day as part of a healthy diet. The Guidelines also state that adults and children should not avoid milk and milk products because of concerns that these products will lead to weight gain.. Together milk, cheese and yogurt provide a unique nutrient package of nine essential nutrients that help Americans improve overall diet quality. A growing body of research suggests that enjoying three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt each day as part of a nutrient-rich, balanced diet may help maintain a healthy weight. At least 45 observational studies exploring dietary intake patterns and body weight in various population groups report that those who consume greater amounts of dairy foods tend to weigh less than those who consume less dairy. In addition, clinical trials of overweight and obese adults showed that those who followed reduced-calorie diets and increased their dairy intake to three servings a day achieved better results than those who cut calories and consumed inadequate amounts of dairy foods and calcium.

For more information, see The Role of Protein in Satiety & Weight Management, Healthy Weight with Dairy .

Q. How do dairy foods help manage blood pressure?
A. Dairy foods are among the top contributors of calcium, potassium and magnesium, nutrients that may play an important role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. In fact, a large-scale government study called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) found that a balanced, low-fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods may help manage blood pressure.

For more information, see Spotlight On Dairy Foods, Dairy Nutrients & Blood Pressure and Dairy's Role in Managing Blood Pressure, and for sample meal plans see DASH to the Diet: Following the DASH Eating Plan and 5 Days of DASH: 15 Meals to Help Ease the Pressure.

Q. How can someone with lactose intolerance still enjoy dairy foods?
A. Different people can handle different amounts of lactose, and there's a solution to meet most needs in the dairy case – from lactose-free milk to dairy foods that are typically easier to digest. Aged cheeses are naturally lower in lactose and many yogurts contain live and active cultures which help digest lactose.

Choose from a wide variety of lactose-free options or naturally lower-lactose containing choices in the dairy case that meet the taste and health needs of most people, including:

  • Lactose-free white milk
  • Lactose-free chocolate milk
  • Aged cheeses like Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Swiss,  which are naturally lower in lactose
  • Yogurts containing "Live and Active Cultures"

Try other dairy foods in small amounts and with meals to find out which ones and which amounts work well for you. For more information and tips, see the Lactose Intolerance Facts page.

Q. How is lactose intolerance different than a milk allergy?
A. Being lactose intolerant is not the same as having a cow's milk allergy. An allergic reaction to cow's milk is triggered by the immune system, not the digestive system, as is the case with lactose intolerance. Lactose-free milk is created by adding the natural enzyme lactase to milk, which converts lactose (natural milk sugar) into the two simple sugars lactose is naturally comprised of (glucose and galactose), making it easier to digest. For more information, see Lactose Intolerance Revisited

If you have a milk allergy please visit FDA.gov or Foodallergy.org for further information.

Back to Questions

Dairy Nutrition
Q. What nutrients are in dairy foods?
A. Together, milk, cheese and yogurt provide a powerful package of nine essential nutrients—including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin D, A, B12, riboflavin and niacin (niacin equivalents)—that help keep bones strong and bodies healthy.  For more information see the Dairy's Unique Nutrient Package section.

Q. How many servings of dairy foods should I eat every day?
A. No matter what your age, dairy's nutrients are an essential part of promoting good bone health and good overall health. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products every day as part of a healthy diet for people 9 years and older. The Guidelines also encourage children ages 2 – 8 to consume 2 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk or equivalent milk products each day. This may be provided as three child-size servings of dairy foods to add up to a total of 2 cups.

See the Dietary Guidelines section for more information, as well as a meal plan to help you follow the recommendations.

Q. How much calcium do I need?
A. The National Academy of Sciences recommends Americans consume between 500 mg to 1,300 mg depending on your age. To find out how much calcium you need – and how many Americans aren't getting enough – see our Calcium Recommendations Fact Sheet.   

Q. Why can't I just take a calcium supplement?
A. The health professional community overwhelmingly agrees that food – especially food that naturally contains calcium – is the first priority in meeting calcium needs. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics believe that individuals should attempt to meet their nutrient needs through food first.

Q. What are nutrient-rich foods?
A. Nutrient-rich foods give you the most vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for fewer calories. To live well, build your daily eating plan on a variety of nutrient-rich foods:

  • Brightly colored fruits and 100% fruit juices
  • Vibrant-colored vegetables and potatoes
  • Whole, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods
  • Low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Lean meat, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts

For more information about nutrient-rich foods and the Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition (NRFC), see Nutrient Rich Foods: A Positive Approach To Building Healthier Diets  or visit our Education Materials.

Q. What's the role of dairy foods in government nutrition guidelines?
A. Dairy foods have a powerful package of essential nutrients. For that reason, the milk and milk products group has long been a critical building block of the food guidance system and nutritional guidance for Americans. For more information, see the Dietary Guidance section.

Q. Is organic milk better for you than regular milk?
A. It's great to have choices in the marketplace, but there is no difference in the quality, safety and nutrition of organic dairy products compared with conventional dairy products.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees national standards that food labeled "organic" must meet. Organic food can differ from conventionally-produced food in the way it is grown, handled, and processed. For more information on organic foods, refer to the USDA's Certified Organic Program. 

Back to Questions

Child Nutrition
Q. What is dairy's role in child nutrition?
A. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identified five "nutrients of concern" for children that play important roles in overall health and disease prevention, and yet most children aren't getting enough of them. Together, dairy foods supply three of the five "nutrients of concern" for which children have low intakes: calcium, potassium and magnesium (the other two are vitamin E and fiber). In fact, milk is the primary beverage source of several key nutrients in America's diet – including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, magnesium and zinc. Visit the Child Nutrition Health Education Kit for more information and downloadable resources on dairy's important role in child nutrition.

Q. How much milk should a child or adolescent consume each day?
A. Children ages 2 – 8 are encouraged to consume two cups of milk or equivalent milk products each day, as recommended by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This may be provided as three child-size servings of dairy foods to add up to a total of two cups of milk or equivalent milk products. Learn more by visiting the Child Nutrition section.

Q. Are milk allergies common in children?
A. Milk protein allergy is most common in infancy and early childhood. Only about 2.5 percent of infants and young children in the first three years of life are affected by a cow's milk allergy.

Q. What is Fuel Up to Play 60?
A. Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Dairy Council (NDC) and the National Football League, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The program encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Fuel Up to Play 60 is designed to engage and empower youth to take action for their own health by implementing long-term, positive changes for themselves and their schools and inspiring their friends to do the same. Customizable and non-prescriptive program components are grounded in research with youth, including tools and resources, in-school promotional materials, a website, youth challenges and rewards.

In its first year, over 60,000 schools enrolled in Fuel Up to Play 60 nationwide. Together with the involvement of supporting organizations, Fuel Up to Play 60 will further its progress by expanding its reach and impact in the years to come.

Back to Questions

Food Safety
Q. How and why is milk pasteurized?
A. All milk is intended for direct consumption should be pasteurized – it's a matter of food safety. Pasteurization is a simple, effective method to kill potentially harmful bacteria without affecting the taste or nutritional value of milk. With standard pasteurization, milk is heated to a minimum of 145°F for 30 minutes or to 161°F or more for 15 seconds, followed by rapid cooling. See our Dairy Food Safety Fact Sheet for science-based information on un-pasteurized milk.

Q. What can I do at home to help protect my family from food-borne illness?
A. Individuals and their actions play an important role in food safety. To help prevent food-borne illness, food safety experts recommend the following four simple steps:

  • Wash your hands. The most important step is also the easiest – keep  your hands clean when handling any food.
  • Protect against cross-contamination. In order to prevent any possible cross-contamination, wash all surfaces (including cutting boards and kitchen counters) in between uses. Be especially careful to wash knives and surfaces after cutting raw poultry, meat and fish.
  • Keep foods out of the "danger zone." As a general rule, foods should always be very cold or very hot. Foods that are in between 41 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit can serve as a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Keep foods in the refrigerator until ready to cook or drink. Once food is cooked, serve hot or (if serving later) rapidly chill in an ice-water bath before refrigerating.  Shop for milk and other perishable items last, just prior to check-out, and immediately take these perishable items home or place them in a cooler to maintain proper temperatures.
  • Be extra-careful in the summer. The living may be easy in the summer, but it's also the peak period for food borne disease. While the microorganisms that can cause disease grow faster in the summer months, the real culprit is often our enjoyable summer cookouts and picnics. Protect against cross contamination by using a clean platter or plate to take food off the grill and by washing any tools you use to handle raw meat, poultry and fish. Also, keep raw meats and chilled foods safe in a cooler instead of baking in the hot summer sun.
  • To learn more about food safety, visit the Partnership for Food Safety Education's Web site.

Q. Are all dairy foods antibiotic-free?
A. Yes. In fact, numerous safety measures are in place to help ensure that antibiotics don't enter the milk supply. For example, a sick cow that is being treated with antibiotics is taken from the milking herd, treated and not put back into the herd until her milk tests free of antibiotics. Additionally, every tank load of milk is strictly tested for antibiotics. Any tanker that tests positive is disposed of immediately, never reaching the public. For more information on milk safety regulations and procedures, see the Food Safety Fact Sheet and Modern Dairy Farming Practices & Milk Quality: Myths & Facts.

Q. What can you tell me about the rbST hormone and milk?
A. All milk, including human breast milk, contains hormones that are digested just as other proteins are digested. While some cows are treated with hormones that are produced by biotechnology, known as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), studies show there is no significant difference between milk from cows that receive hormones and cows that don't.

Separate reviews by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the joint World Health Organization/Food and Agriculture Organization committee (WHO/FAO), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have all supported the FDA's position that milk from rbST-supplemented cows is safe.

For more information on rbST, refer to the Food Safety Fact Sheet or www.rbSTFacts.org.  

Q. Who should I contact if I have questions about food safety?
A. For dairy-specific food safety information, you can access our Food Safety Fact Sheet. For additional questions, you can "ask Karen," the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service virtual representative. This virtual representative is ready to answer questions from the public on a variety of food safety topics. You also can refer to the government Web site www.foodsafety.gov.

Back to Questions

Recipes and Education Materials
Q. Where can I find recipes using milk, cheese and yogurt?
A. You can find many delicious recipes featuring milk, cheese and yogurt in our recipe catalogue.

Q. Where can I find free educational materials that I can use at a school, health fair or community health center?
A. We have many nutrition education materials that you can download. Additionally, the Nutrition Explorations Web site has a catalog of materials as well as useful information for educators and school foodservice professionals. Finally, your local dairy council is also a helpful resource for information and materials.

Back to Questions​​

Dairy’s Health Benefits

Getting three servings of low-fat or fat-free, nutrient-rich dairy foods every day plays a crucial role in helping to promote bone health, healthy blood pressure and a healthy weight.