The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) are petitioning the FDA to allow them to add non-nutritive sweeteners (i.e. artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame) to milk and 17 additional dairy products without having to mention this on the label. They want the term "milk" to encompass this definition, because right now the only way they can bypass this is by labeling the milk as "reduced calorie" if it contains a non-nutritive sweetener. Even in the case of a "reduced calorie" designation, non-nutritive sweeteners may misleadingly be labeled as an optional characterizing flavor.
With sugar being at the source of our nation's obesity epidemic, allowing the addition of non-nutritive sweeteners to milk and dairy products without our knowledge is irresponsible. These sweeteners, even though they are not sugar, still trigger the "sweet" taste buds without satisfying the physiologic need that the sweetness creates. Often, this leads to increased cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods and other sweets that contribute to rising obesity rates. To allow milk to be altered in this way without clearly mentioning it on the label is misleading and extremely concerning. We know that studies have shown that the Diet Sodas (containing aspartame, for example) are actually linked to higher rates of pre-diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and heart disease. Consumers should have the right to know what is added to the food that they purchase.
Furthermore, children are innocent bystanders of this labeling that are not able to discern these differences that will affect their long-term health. Part of the reason for this petition is that the IDFA and NMPF are concerned that children will not purchase products that are labeled as "reduced calorie" because they are perceived as less desirable. Children need guidance from their parents on what is healthy to eat, and if they're not getting it at home, they certainly don't need to be "tricked" into buying a dairy product that is sweeter due to the addition of these non-nutritive sweeteners. So, they basically want to mask it to make it more appealing to children? In addition, some of these non-nutritive sweeteners have be linked to hyperactivity, ADD, and ADHD in children, as well as being an aggravating factor in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
For these reasons, we, the undersigned, ask the Food and Drug Administration to protect us and our children from this blatantly misleading labeling of milk and dairy products by saying "No" to this request. Make food-labeling as transparent as possible so that we, the consumers, can make our own educated decisions on what we eat or don't eat.