Over the past week, there has been significant buzz in social and traditional media about aspartame in milk and the dairy industry’s request regarding labeling.
While this issue is being handled by National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) because it is about standards of identity and labeling, as a checkoff organization, Western Dairy Association wants to provide our producers and friends with accurate information and resources should you be a part of a discussion regarding aspartame in milk. Several consumers and health professionals have already asked Western Dairy Association producers and staff about the issue, and there seems to be a great deal of misconception and misinformation I’d like to help clarify.
In 2009, NMPF and IDFA filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on milk labeling regulations and some have misrepresented it as an effort to add aspartame without labeling it.
The FDA petition would NOT change any existing requirements that aspartame, or other non-nutritive sweeteners, be included in the list of ingredients on chocolate milk or any dairy product. What the industry is trying to do is allow for a change so that sweeteners other than sugar can be used to reduce the calories and carbs in chocolate and other flavors of milk. All ingredients would still be listed.
Currently, the standard of identity allows for the use of nutritive sweeteners in flavored milk. Non-nutritive sweeteners may be used only with special labeling, such as “reduced-calorie chocolate milk” or “no sugar added chocolate milk” for milks that qualify for these claims. The petition from IDFA and NMPF states that these phrases don’t appeal to children. (Note the petition was filed in 2009 but came to light again last week when the FDA issued a notice to request public comments.)
Keep in mind, dairy companies adhere to the FDA’s strict food safety regulations and dairy products are safe and accurately labeled. As an industry, we support giving people choices when it comes to the type of milk they purchase and consume.
Regardless of the outcome of this petition, milk has, and always will, continue to provide 9 essential nutrients important to health and wellness.
For more on this issue, I encourage you to visit http://www.nmpf.org/latest-news/press-releases/feb-2013/national-milk-producers-federation-statement-regarding-non-nutri.