Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Aspartame in Milk?

You might have seen information last week regarding milk processors petitioning to add aspartame to milk. Most of the stories I saw were not accurate. Let’s set the record straight.

Fact: Milk processors are seeking approval to use FDA approved sweeteners in flavored milk,
not white milk
.
In 2009, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) filed a petition requesting milk processors be allowed to use safe and suitable alternatives to sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. This petition applies to flavored milks, not white milk, and the type of sugar substitutes that can be used. The reason for this request is to create flavored milk products with reduced calories and carbohydrates in an effort to promote healthy eating. There never has been, and never will be, any kind of sweetener added to white milk.

Fact: Alternative sweeteners are currently approved for use by the Food & Drug Admin (FDA).
There are at least five non-nutritive sweeteners approved by the FDA for use in foods and beverages, which would provide a useful tool for lowering sugar and calorie levels in flavored milk.

Fact: All ingredients used must be listed on the product.
If a sweetener is added to flavored milk, it must be listed in the ingredients. This is the way it has
been and will continue to be. The petition filed would not change any existing FDA requirements that aspartame, sucralose, or any other non-nutritive sweetener be included in the list of ingredients if it is present.

Fact: This action allows, not mandates, milk processors to use alternative sweeteners.

The dairy industry isn’t trying to hide anything. If milk processors are allowed to use FDA approved alternative sweeteners in flavored milk, it doesn’t mean they will, it simply means they can. It means they have a choice and that’s a good thing. Some people might choose to consume more flavored milk if it contained fewer calories.

Fact: Milk will continue to provide 9 essential nutrients important to health and wellness. 
Regardless of the type of sweetener in flavored milk, it still contains the same important nutrients including calcium, potassium, protein and vitamins. Flavored milk is a popular choice among children and offers a superior nutrient packaged when compared to other beverages.

My Opinion: Milk processors and consumers deserve the right to have choices.
As a dairy producer and milk consumer, I believe milk processors should make products people
want. Some people are concerned about sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in beverages and prefer alternative sweeteners to reduce calories. Others prefer “real” sugar and don’t mind the calories contained in sugar. Beverage companies should have the right to use all safe and FDA approved sweeteners. Ingredients are listed on product labels and consumers have the right to choose.

To learn more, check out these additional resources:
The Aspartame in Milk Controversy by Dairy Carrie
National Milk Producers Federation statement on this petition
IDFA Facebook Page

28 comments:

  1. Thanks for setting the record straight and thank you for being part of the Ohio Farming Community! I live in Highland County and our mayor is Drew Hastings!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't think the processors were petitioning for permission to add aspartame to milk, they were petitioning the labeling requirements. Does current law allow yogurt with aspartame to be called "yogurt", but not grant the same thing for "milk"? The yogurt label along with many other food labels say "contains aspartame". I don't see a problem with this, in fact I seek out alternatives to consuming sugar. I would love to drink a chocolate milk without added sugar. The idea of supressing such labeling is what throws up a red flag with people.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Milk processors can add sugar substitutes to flavored milk now, but must change the product label if they do. This petition asks that milk be treated like many other beverages. Currently, if sugar is being replaced in flavored milk it must be labeled "reduced calorie" or "lower sugar". This type of labeling might not be attractive to kids or others who choose flavored milk. So processors want the option of continuing to label flavored milk "milk" even if it contains a sweetener other than sugar. All ingredients added must be listed in the ingredients section of the packaging.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The reason it raises a red flag to me, is because prolonged consumption of aspartame has been linked to causing cancer. It sort of feels to me, like they want more people to get cancer so there will be more money spent with the pharmaceutical companies or lower the population. That may not be their intentions, but it wouldn't surprise me if such a thing would happen. These are our children we have to think about. Since they are probably the majority of the ones drinking this stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Non-nutritive sweeteners are used in a variety of beverages and other products on the market today. These types of sweeteners are approved by the FDA for human consumption.

      Delete
    2. Just because the FDA approves something, such as an ingredient, doesn't make it "safe" for us to consume! Just to name one out of hundrends: high-fructose corn syrup...APPROVED...not good for us!!!9

      Delete
    3. Products must be researched and tested to be approved by the FDA. If this isn't satisfactory, what method of approval do you recommend? Many foods and ingredients are safe and healthy in moderation, but can be unhealthy if consumed in excess. We are responsible for what and how much we consume.

      Delete
    4. Your right, many foods are safe, BUT many many ingredients APPROVED are not! No amount of moderation makes since for consuming chemically-altered products. How about we stop letting the government run everything in our lives? How about we make our voices be heard and demand better, healthy choices. How about getting back to nature? There is a reason why we have hugh epidemics of different diseases. If the FDA is truly is concerned about standards and our health, they would require consumers to give us the purest form of food, which in turn, would keep the market competitive and keep prices of real food reasonable! Ever wonder why they don't? People, we must inform ourselves, for our sake and our future generations sake!!9

      Delete
    5. I agree that government’s role should be limited, especially when it comes to food choices. We are free to choose the type of food we want and anything added to that product must be listed on the product label so we can make an informed choice. If you choose to eat “natural” food in its “purest form”, it’s available. When I go to the grocery store weekly, I find food staples like fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, eggs and several types of meat to be very reasonably priced and a good value for my dollar. These products are typically less expensive than their processed or prepared counterparts. I agree people should make informed decisions about their food and they should take responsibility for those choices.

      Delete
  5. Actually, the third "fact" you list is one of the things that the petition seeks to change, because it would change the legal definition of many dairy products specifically to that aspartame and other non-nutritive sweeteners can be included WITHOUT being listed on the label. This is directly from the FDA's summary of the petition: "If the standard of identity for milk is amended as requested by petitioners, milk manufacturers could use non-nutritive sweeteners in flavored milk without a nutrient content claim in its labeling." I really urge individuals to read the full text of the petition here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/02/20/2013-03835/flavored-milk-petition-to-amend-the-standard-of-identity-for-milk-and-17-additional-dairy-products

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My third fact is accurate. If a sweetener is added to flavored milk, it must be listed in the ingredients. The petition requests "that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can “more easily identify its overall nutritional value.”

      The claims on the front of the label are different than the list of ingredients typically on the back of the label. ALL ingredients must be listed on the package.

      Delete
  6. While I understand the distinction you are making between the label vs. the ingredients, it does not change the fact that consumers trying to avoid potentially harmful sugar substitutes will need to become even more diligent. I have found that I have to scrutinize the ingredients list for everything I buy now since the labels seem to no longer be transparent. It frustrates me to no end that something will seem to be "normal" only to find that it has sucralose or asparatame in it. It shouldn't be so time-consuming to figure out what food products have "fake" ingredients in them. So, yes, technically you are correct in that dairy products would still need to list sugar substitutes in the ingredient list, however, it puts more burden on consumers, especially those less savvy than others when it comes to awareness. It almost seems akin to "bait and switch" tactics; on the outside in bold letters you advertise "Milk", but then once the consumer takes a closer look, they realize it has a bit extra for which they may not have bargained. Out of curiosity, will your children be consuming the milk containing Aspartame?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have confidence in the U.S. food production system. Today, there is more information on food labels, transparency in food production, and information about food from farm to table than ever before. The multitude of food labels, claims, opinions and facts about food on TV, the Internet, books, and magazines can make food choices more complicated. I don’t think eating has to be so complex.

      I believe products and ingredients approved by FDA are safe. Low calorie sweeteners such as aspartame (brand name Equal) are FDA approved for human consumption. So I feel comfortable consuming products, like diet Pepsi, which contain these sweeteners. To clarify, no sweeteners have been or will be added to white milk, this pertains to flavored milk.

      In recent years, there has been a concerned raised over the sugar or high fructose corn syrup in flavored milk. In response to that concern, dairy food companies want the option of producing flavored milk using low calorie sweeteners while continuing to call the product “milk” as opposed to “reduced calorie milk”. I don’t see any problem with that. Some people want reduced calorie flavored milk with alternative sweeteners. Those products should be available to them.

      My family consumes products with non-nutritive sweeteners, including aspartame. My children drink flavored milk at school daily. I endorse drinking white milk and flavored milk because I know these beverages are nutritious. If there was a reduced calorie flavored milk available, I would buy it for my family without hesitation.

      Delete
    2. Your article is very informative, however you make the mistake of trusting the FDA!!

      Delete
    3. There is a set of standards food ingredients and drugs must comply with in this country. If you don't believe the current approval process is working, what do you recommend?

      Delete
  7. The process is flawed, we should be working to fix it. We all know the FDA don't test the products, they go on the info of the company seeking approval. Aspartame has been proven to cause cancer and other illnesses.
    Lets seek truth not confusion.Lets do it fore the kids we all say we love.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Here is some information from the National Center for Biotechnology Information which is part of the United States National Library of Medicine.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23097267
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16507461
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17805418

    How many things were once deemed safe by the FDA, then changed to unsafe?

    ReplyDelete
  9. There are many doctors, nutrition professionals and science-based data documenting the safety of aspartame;

    CNN Health – Is Aspartame Safe?
    http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2010/03/18/is-aspartame-safe/
    According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, “Current evidence does not support this idea that aspartame could cause cancer, or that it is unsafe. According to the American Dietetic Association, aspartame’s safety is documented in more than 200 objective scientific studies. The Food and Drug Administration has concluded that aspartame is safe, and there are no strong data out there to refute that.”

    Artificial Sweeteners: Is Aspartame Safe?
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/are-artificial-sweeteners-safe
    Aspartame has been found to be safe for human consumption by the regulatory agencies of more than ninety countries worldwide, with FDA officials describing aspartame as “one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved” and its safety as “clear cut.”

    Web MD Expert Panel: Aspartame Sweetener Safe
    http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20070911/expert-panel-aspartame-sweetener-safe
    An expert panel says it's confident there's no health risk from aspartame -- the artificial sweetener used in thousands of food products. "We conclude aspartame is very safe," panel coordinator Bernadene Magnuson, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Maryland, said at a news conference.

    Best Food Facts http://www.bestfoodfacts.org/food-for-thought/diet-soda
    Dr. Barry M. Popkin, W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, concludes,” There is absolutely no proof that aspartame or diet soda causes an increased risk of leukemia and lymphoma. There is absolutely no evidence that diet soda destroys brain cells.”

    Each individual has the right to pick the foods and ingredients they consume. I believe the studies I’ve read that say aspartame is a safe food ingredient.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I do not trust the FDA what so ever. The media tells us who to trust and what to believe. I have read countless studies that have been suppressed by the main media. Every one of these studies showing aspartame is linked to cancer among a long list of other diseases. Our government and the people who protect us are driven by money and power. It's a business and i don't know why it's so hard for people to see what's going on. You are told to trust the FDA, so that's why you do it with no question. The facts about these dangerous sweeteners are right there in front of our eyes. People need to wake up. Unfortunately most people choose to stay asleep because they think ignorance is bliss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the FDA ingredient approval process isn’t adequate, what do you recommend? I look to science-based data when making an informed decision. You have a right to your opinion, but just because people don’t agree with you doesn’t mean they are “asleep or ignorant”. We all have the right to review the information available and make our own decision.

      Delete
  11. I have Interstitial Cystitis and I have an extreme sensitivity to artificial sweeteners among other things. Milk and water are the only things
    I can drink without a sufficient amount on pain. I would not have a problem with aspartame or other sweeteners being added to milk as long as it is clearly labled. I should not have to look up every ingredient in every prodouct. Labeling products as diet, reduced fat, or no sugar added is a dead ringer to check the label scrupulously before consuming the product. Other products are required by law to add this extra safeguard to products. I do not feel the milk industry should be treated any differently then other industries.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This is all moot, NMPF has given up on their petition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing a link to this article by the National Milk Producers Federation. It provides some interesting insight as to why the petition was filed in the first place and why it will not likely be approved.

      Delete
    2. You're welcome! I just became aware that the misinformation was still out there due to someone talking about the Dr Oz show yesterday.

      I don't blame people's skepticism/distrust of federal agencies like FDA, but as you ask--what is the alternative? The corporate influence has got to go away! Here is an example of where things are headed, with USDA-ARS turning over control of some of their work to private industry. You can just see Dr. Wiggins sitting there like a whipped pup.

      Delete
  13. The alternative to blindly trusting the FDA is not blindly trusting the FDA. Read the ingredients on every food product you consider buying and base your decision whether to buy or not on your own safety criteria.

    There's a wealth of information available to consumers. Just because something is FDA-approved (non toxic, basically) doesn't mean it's a wholesome, healthy, foodstuff. Many "safe" ingredients are harmful when consumed in large quantities and over long periods of time. HFCS and sugar are two examples. A tablespoon of sugar won't kill you, but year after year of 200g of sugar/day may well lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anon, I agree with you 100%--I wouldn't blindly trust anyone. Nothing should be taken for granted. When I ask about possible alternatives, I am acknowledging the necessity of impartial, third-party, scientific knowledge and research as part of the process of approving items for human consumption. Unfortunately, there is evidence that your skepticism of aspartame's approval is valid. At the very least, we as a dairy industry need to be straightforward with our consumers and not try to hide anything from anyone.

      Delete
  14. Suggesting "flavored milk" is nutritious and even belongs in be same sentence related to healthy eating as regular milk is akin to someone suggesting potato chips are just as "nutritious" as a baked potato. To propose that by allowing the obfuscation of these "ingredients" is a favor to people to help them make informed decisions is even worse. This, plain and simple, is about selling more junk milk to kids (or, maybe just selling more milk whatever the means...), who might be otherwise put off by the "reduced calorie" labeling presently required.

    As stated, manufacturers are already permitted to add the artificial sweeteners, they just don't like stigma associated with the labeling requirements. I see this as an attempt to primarily confuse children (who are less likely to read ingredients) and I would like to know how changing the label on these products to something LESS informative improves any consumers lives.

    BTW, the term "flavored milk" (to describe a product we all know to have unhealthy aspects that invalidate any suggested positive nutritional value), reminds me of the soda producers "juice drink" term, the one used to describe non-carbonated beverages that often contain more sugar and calories than colas - but then again I guess that 10% actual juice content may pack a real "nutritious" punch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Flavored milk contains the same nutrients as white milk. In fact, the dairy industry has made it a priority to reduce the added sugar in flavored milk in recent years. Few foods deliver dairy’s powerhouse of nutrients in such an affordable, appealing and readily available way. Most nutrition professionals agree, milk is a great source of 9 essential nutrients. It’s one of the healthiest beverages available.

      Delete

Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment! I’m opening the doors of our farm to share with you and enjoy engaging in discussion. Please be respectful in your comments. I reserve the right to remove posts that include name calling, slander, and vulgar language or contain links to websites that assault animal agriculture.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...