Target: Food and Drug Administration
Goal: Require dairy companies to label flavored milk sweetened with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame
Two dairy industry lobby groups, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation, are petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to relax its rules on the official definition of milk. Currently milk can be simply labelled as milk even if it is flavored and sweetened with natural sweetener. But the industry is attempting to get the FDA to redefine milk to include dairy drinks sweetened with artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
Lobbyists’ rationale is that the flavored milk which is sold in schools to children is contributing to childhood obesity. Offering sugar-free varieties, they say, will help combat childhood obesity. However, they say that the current rules, which require such products to be labelled “reduced calorie” milk, stops children from choosing it.
Changing the definition of milk to include milk sweetened with aspartame is not only a perversion of milk as a natural food, but would be misleading to consumers who may buy artificially sweetened milk without realizing what they are buying. Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are generally considered safe for consumption, but many feel they have not been in use for long enough to know for sure. Consumers, even children, deserve to be informed of what is in the products they are buying. Furthermore, the problem of childhood obesity will not be solved by replacing natural sweeteners with artificial ones.
The milk industry, which profits from the sale of sweetened milks, does not want to see demand for this product fall off, and thus is attempting to introduce “guilt-free” artificially sweetened milk without proper labeling. Sign the petition below to ask the FDA to deny the industry’s request to expand the definition of milk.
Dear Food and Drug Administration,
The petition you are currently considering from the milk industry to expand the definition of milk to include milk sweetened with artificial sweeteners must be denied. Consumers have a right to know what is being used to sweeten their milk, and removing the requirement to label milk sweetened in this way could have the effect of misleading consumers.
Further, the industry’s rationale for the petition – curbing childhood obesity – does not address the root of the problem, which is addiction to sweetened foods. Instead of switching to artificial sweeteners for flavored milk, these companies should be marketing their existing healthier options better, without deceptive labeling.
Please reject the petition from the milk industry to avoid labeling artificially sweetened milk.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: safoocat via Flickr