The Return of the Flavored “Milk” Debate

  • Policy & Advocacy
  • April 08, 2013
  • Comments

It used to be about the sugar. Chocolate and other flavored milks always had too much for kids in school. Now, it’s about the lack thereof. Nutrient-empty sweeteners like aspartame have created a whole new milk controversy. There are a slew of problems with the International Dairy Foods Association’s (IDFA) and National Milk Producers Federation’s (NMPF) petition to the FDA to add artificial sweeteners to milk and 17 other dairy products sans front-label disclosure.

Normally, products that include non-nutritive sweeteners also carry labels on the front of the packaging – like “reduced calories” – to alert consumers. The dairy industry’s main argument is that kids would not find labels like “reduced calories” or “reduced sugar” labels appealing.

So what’s all the fuss about, you ask? There are misleading labels everywhere we go, from information left off packages to false nutrition claims. Here are just a few concerns circulating among media and school lunch reform advocates:

1. Kids throughout the U.S. will be drinking copious amounts of artificial sugar additives. According to the National Dairy Council, 80% of flavored milk sold in America is to schools, and 70% of total milk consumed in schools is flavored.

2. They will likely be doing so without the knowledge of their parents.

3. We can’t be sure of the long-term health effects.

4. For what? Increased dairy sales.

5. And if this, what else?

Since the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 passed, we’ve strived for more transparency, not less. Scientifically-formulated guidelines for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) continue to be updated for the health and wellness of our children. When it comes to artificial additives and highly processed foods, err on the side of caution. The least we can do is to label it front and center. 

Chef Ann signed an open letter to the FDA opposing the dairy lobby’s FDA citizen petition. You can make your voice heard in the following ways: 

· State your opinion on FDA’s website.

· Sign an online petition that ensures front-of-the-package labeling for any dairy product with added non-nutritive sweeteners.

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