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.
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