Two powerful dairy organizations, The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), are petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to allow aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to be added to milk and other dairy products without a label.
The FDA currently allows the dairy industry to use “nutritive sweeteners” including sugar and high fructose corn syrup in many of their products. Nutritive sweeteners are defined as sweeteners with calories.
This petition officially seeks to amend the standard of identification for milk, cream, and 17 other dairy products like yogurt, sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, and others to provide for the use of any “safe and suitable sweetener” on the market.
They claim that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners would promote healthy eating and is good for school children.
According to the FDA notice issued this week:
IDFA and NMPF state that the proposed amendments would promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavored milk products. They state that lower-calorie flavored milk would particularly benefit school children who, according to IDFA and NMPF, are more inclined to drink flavored milk than unflavored milk at school.
Although the FDA considers aspartame to be a “safe and suitable” sweetener, a recent Yale University study appears to directly challenge the claim that aspartame would reduce obesity. In fact, the study concluded just the opposite, that artificial sweeteners actually contributed to obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
The IDFA and NMPF argue “that the proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity would promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace” yet they don’t want changes to the labels on dairy products.
Accordingly, the petitioners state that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can “more easily identify its overall nutritional value.”
It’s unclear how consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners without labels.
Quoting Section 130.10 of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, the dairy giants claim a new label is not required because sugar is added to milk without labeling it, and “the modified food is not inferior in performance” and “‘reduced calorie’ (labels) are not attractive to children” so marketing as such is of no benefit or detriment.
The FDA has opened public comments until May 21 for anyone interested to “submit comments, data, and information concerning the need for, and the appropriateness of, amending the standard of identity for milk and the additional dairy standards.”
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