Dairy Industry Trying to Hide Aspartame in New Definition of ‘Milk’

The large corporations of dairy industry have tried to make amends in the definition of milk we all know, namely these large corporations are trying to include aspartame and other artificial sweeteners into dairy products without the knowledge of customers.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) filed a petition with the FDA1 requesting the agency to “amend the standard of identity” for milk and 17 other dairy products.
Their intention is to use any suitable sweetener which is safe as an optional ingredient like for instance the non-nutritive sweetener aspartame, and not to label it accordingly.

If this amendment is approved, then every time when you are in a store and buying milk you will not be sure what product you are buying as it can include some artificial sweetener like aspartame, sucralose, or other. So, you will buy a carton of milk without the ingredient list of which artificial sweetener is used and without the low-calorie type label, which is always some kind of indication that the product may contain a non-nutritive sweetener. 

This is what the Federal Register maintains, quoting:

[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.

Furthermore, the IDFA and NMPF claim that the proposed amendments would “promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace.” All this is a real nonsense as the content of milk is not connected with the promotion of honesty and fair dealing on the market; it is just a great alteration of what really milk means and that for sure would be a dairy product packed with non labeled artificial sweeteners.

Further on, the IDFA and NMPF maintain that the nutrient content of “reduced calorie” is not appealing to most of the children, which led to reduced consumption of milk in schools. They compare this with the GMO labeling issue, because if it is properly labeled it will confuse children and make them scared to drink this milk.

Moreover, the IDFA and NMPF argue 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.”

In addition to this, the IDFA and NMPF claim that consumers generally do not consider milk or the flavored milk as a product containing sugar. For that reason, if the customer does not recognize the fact that the flavored milk may contain added sugar, it will be normal to sweeten the product with non-nutritive artificial sweeteners labeling it “milk”, which will be easier for the final customer to identify its overall nutritional value. Controversial and confusing, isn’t it?

This twisted logic is very difficult to grasp, but the FDA have already permitted for the dairy industry to use the unmodified “milk” label for products that contain added sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

We are all familiar with the use of artificial sweeteners in other products, but the producer is obliged to put it in the ingredient list on the label. According to the Section 130.10 of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, the IDFA and NMPF maintain that there is no need for extra labeling for artificial sweeteners as sugar is already added to milk without labeling it, and “the modified food is not inferior in performance,” and “reduced calories are not attractive to children.”

Therefore, manufactures consider since nutritive sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup – HFCS can be included in dairy products without being listed as an ingredient, why then to list an artificial sweetener, this will only confuse the customers. Customers are already consuming flavored milk or yogurt containing HFCS without even proper label on it, so why to confuse them even more by telling that the other version of dairy product contains an artificial sweetener. The products with artificial sweeteners will be avoided at the market because of the enlisted label, and the HFCS-containing products without any enlisting will be sold freely on the market as a “milk” product.

In that way, concealing the real ingredient list containing added sweeteners will “promote honesty” and “fair dealing in the marketplace.” So, the customers aside the fact that already intake products containing hidden fructose will also consume artificial sweeteners without even knowing it.

Moreover, the petition asks for the FDA to amend the standards of identity for 17 other milk and cream products in similar way, and permitting the use of any safe and suitable sweetener in the optional ingredients, without even specifying the kind of sweetener used on the label.

Here are the 17 dairy products:

  1. Acidified milk
  2. Acidified sour cream
  3. Cultured milk
  4. Dry cream
  5. Evaporated milk
  6. Eggnog
  7. Half-and-half
  8. Heavy cream
  9. Light cream
  10. Light whipping cream
  11. Low fat yogurt
  12. Nonfat yogurt
  13. Nonfat dairy milk
  14. Nonfat dry milk fortified with vitamins A and D
  15. Sour cream
  16. Sweetened condensed milk
  17. Yogurt

After reading this article for sure you are wondering WHY anyone should change the definition of milk. For sure it is the sheer profit of the dairy industry that does not want for the customers to make their own choice, but to be offered with a product without any labeling which is clearly displayed in an April 13, 2011 letter from the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) to Julie Brewer, Chief of the Policy and Program Development Branch of the Child Nutrition Division of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This letter was submitted in response to the USDA’s proposed rule to revise the meal patterns and nutrition requirements for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. Naturally, one of the proposed changes was to limit flavored milk products to fat-free versions only, which according to the NMPF would negatively affect the goal of higher milk consumption in schools.

Here is what it says in the letter:

The proposed rule will not be a success if milk consumption drops as a result of flavored milk choices that are not appealing (or at least not as appealing as competitive beverages students may bring to school from elsewhere). Flavored milk was included as an option in the proposed rule in recognition that the small amount of added sugar (flavored milk contributes only 2-3% of added sugars to the diets of children and adolescents) is an acceptable trade-off for the extensive nutrient contribution flavored milk provides.

Therefore, NMPF urges the Department to modify the proposed rule to include both low-fat and fat-free flavored milk as options available to schools. To limit the potential for additional calories in a low-fat flavored milk (as compared to a fat-free formulation) we urge the establishment of a calorie limit on flavored milk of 150 calories per eight-ounce serving.

This will provide schools the flexibility to procure milk products that maintain high levels of acceptability and nutrient intake, while also assuring that flavored milk fits within overall calorie limits for meals. Many milk processors have proactively committed to and met a goal of 150 calories per serving as a way to limit the amount of sugar in flavored milk, and have worked within this constraint to formulate products that have demonstrated acceptability among students in schools across the country.”

Consequently it has nothing to do with making the purchasing decisions easier, and it has more to do with:

  • Fooling your kids into drinking otherwise unpopular fat free or low fat milk.
  • Making the national school breakfast and lunch programs to appear “good” by lowering overall calories of the meals while at the same time assisting the dairy industry to protect their profits.

We cannot state which is the worst in this case, the fact that the USDA is persistent on using the flawed theory of calories as a measure of the “healthfulness” of school meals and moreover, their misguided persistence on fat free and low fat products to fight off obesity; or their attitude towards the use of artificial sweeteners.