redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Dairy industry experts are attempting to convince the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow them to include artificial sweeteners such as aspartame in milk without the products being forced to carry special labels, various media outlets reported late last week.
According to US News and World Reports writer Danielle Kurtzleben, two industry trade groups — the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) — have filed a petition with the FDA requesting permission to use aspartame in milk without having to disclose that fact on the product´s label.
Currently, the artificial sweetener is allowed to be added to milk, but the label must point out its inclusion in the dairy product. The petition is looking to change all that, hiding aspartame´s presence in milk in order to try and avoid labels such as “reduced calorie” or “diet” milk. The idea dates back to 2009, Kurtzleben explained, but only recently has the agency opted to publish the groups´ petition and open it up to the general public for comment and discussion.
“The groups say the goal is, in part, to counteract childhood obesity. But the petition is also candid about aiming to boost milk consumption,” she said. “Children drink millions of gallons of milk in school every year, but that consumption is also declining, according to a spokeswoman for IDFA. The trade associations are hoping that aspartame helps to reverse that decline.”
“Many children prefer chocolate milk to regular milk, but that means added sugar and calories, not to mention hesitance from schools about serving higher-calorie drinks. Meanwhile, there has been a national full-court press to counteract childhood obesity. This solution, the dairy industry says, solves both problems,” added Kurtzleben.
Aspartame, which is marketed under the brand-name Equal, is used in a wide variety of different products, including diet soda, explains Bonnie Kavoussi of The Huffington Post.
However, she notes that some researchers have linked artificial sweeteners to changes in brain chemistry to can make people crave high-calorie foods. In turn, those foods can actually increase an individual´s risk of developing diabetes or obesity.
“Studies have shown that school-age children are more likely to consume flavored milk over regular milk, so if the downward trend in milk consumption in schools is to be reversed, there need to be better options available for lower-calorie flavored milk,” the IDFA and NMPF wrote in their petition, according to Kurtzleben.
“The push for lower-calorie options is in part a lesson in knowing your audience. Lower-calorie beverages that are not explicitly labeled as such could please parents and school administrators while getting children — a captive audience in the school lunchroom — drinking more,” the US News and World Reports writer added.