A petition filed with the FDA seeks to change milk’s definition so that artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose can be added as optional ingredients and not listed on the label.
It was originally filed in 2009 and is now being considered by the administration. If it passes, the additives would be included in dairy products like whipping cream, low-fat and non-fat yogurt, eggnog, sweetened condensed milk, sour cream, and half-and-half, but would not require any special labeling.
The hope is that using artificial sweeteners will boost the appeal of dairy products, particularly in children, as milk consumption is dropping rapidly.
The overall goal of the petition is to convince the FDA to allow milk and other dairy products avoid being labelled “artificially sweetened” if they included aspartame and other sugar substitutes.
There is no ruling by the FDA on the petition yet.
As of now, dairy producers can say a product is “milk” if it is unsweetened or if they contain real sweeteners with calories, like high-fructose syrup or sugar. Examples include chocolate or strawberry milk and flavored yogurts.
Some dairy products also use chemical sweeteners, but are required to list the product as artificially sweetened.
The petition states, in part:
"DFA and NMPF argue that nutrient content claims such as "reduced calorie" are not attractive to children and maintain that consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims. Further, the petitioners assert that consumers do not recognize milk—including flavored milk—as necessarily containing sugar. Accordingly, the petitioners state 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.”
While at least 90 countries have declared the use of aspartame as safe, many studies recently linked it to a number of problems.
The health risks include depression, heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, kidney problems, weight gain, and preterm delivery.