Recently big dairy has made a big push to amend the definition of milk – to allow them to add aspartame and other sweeteners without consumers knowing!
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) filed a petition with the FDA1 requesting the agency “amend the standard of identity” for milk and 17 other dairy products.
This was done to provide for the use of any safe and suitable sweetener as an optional ingredient — including non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame to deceive you by not having to indicate its use on the label.
If the amendment goes through, that would mean anytime you see the word “milk” on the label, it could include aspartame, sucralose, or any other dangerous artificial sweetener, but you could never be quite sure, since there will be no mention of it — not by listing the artificial sweetener used, nor with a no- or low-calorie type label, which is a tip-off that the product might contain a non-nutritive sweetener.
The Federal Register states:
“[T]he proposed amendments would assist in meeting several initiatives aimed at improving the nutrition and health profile of food served in the nation’s schools. Those initiatives include state-level programs designed to limit the quantity of sugar served to children during the school day.”
The problem with the proposed change is the dangers of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. Although it is still widely used in many diet foods and beverages, there is growing concern about the health implications of the chemical sweetener.
Recent research shows that aspartame has been linked to health conditions such as obesity, dizziness, and digestive problems, and even more serious conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease and even Alzheimer’s.
Changing labeling laws does make it harder for people to make informed decisions when they are shopping, and leads to confusion surrounding certain products. Not everyone has the means or the ability to work out for themselves what the nutritional information means and often trust what the general idea of the packaging is presenting to them.
The IDFA and NMPF state that:
“consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims.”
But ultimately the move will only serve to muddy the waters between what milk companies can get away with selling under the guise of a ‘healthy’ product.
Thanks for reading!