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Brussels, 11 July 2008

School Milk: New scheme boosts consumption and healthier consumer habits

In response to the requests and suggestions of Member States and the European Parliament, the European Commission has adopted a new version of the EU School Milk Scheme with simple and clear implementation rules that provides a larger range of healthy dairy products to more children.

"The School Milk Scheme has both nutritional and educational character and contributes to the fight against obesity and to providing essential elements for children's growth and health," said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. "Now, with simpler rules and more attractive products available, we expect that even more schools, including secondary schools, will participate in the school milk scheme."

The EU subsidy will now cover a wider range of dairy products: from traditional drinking milk to cheeses, including also certain plain or fruited fermented milk products, such as yoghurt, buttermilk, kephir etc. The Member states have the possibility to choose the products they wish to distribute, and pay, for instance, particular attention to low-fat dairy products.

Furthermore, the scheme will benefit a larger number of children, as secondary schools will benefit from the same access to the scheme as nursery and primary schools.

This renewed version responds to a number of requests from the Member States and the European Parliament. Together with the Commission proposal for an EU School Fruit Scheme presented on July 8th (see IP/08/1116), the new School Milk Scheme, applying already from August 2008, has an increased attention from the Commission as regards healthier diet and eating habits for children.

The EU support for milk distribution has existed with various modifications for more than 30 years. In the 2006/2007 school year, the equivalent of 305 000 tonnes of milk was distributed in schools in 22 Member States with the Community providing more than € 50 million.

With the new scheme, it is expected that in the future even more schools will participate, allowing and encouraging children to replace low-quality food and drinks with convenient, high-quality dairy products.

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