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Sweet Milk?

Posted on 03/5/2013

Sweet milk? Yes, you heard me right.  Turns out the mega powerful lobbyists from the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation are seeking to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to add artificial sweeteners as a HIDDEN (i.e., NOT labeled) additive to milk and 17 other dairy products. Absurd? You bet!

The dairy industry wants to market artificially sweetened milk and other dairy products WITHOUT any special label to alert consumers. Fraudulent? Yes, in my opinion and downright deceptive.

Why on earth would the FDA agree to such a petition? Well, it's hard for most consumers to understand but as I was told years and years (and years) ago by the FDA, once something is deemed safe and on the so-called "FDA safe list" then it is nearly impossible to remove it. I had inquired about artificial sweeteners and artificial food dyes and that was what I was told. So there they sit, "safe" ingredients in the FDA's eyes.

This new petition isn't so new, in fact, it was first filed in 2009 and is now under consideration by the FDA. It could impact 18 dairy products including milk that we feed our children. 

Imagine a young mother providing what she thinks as nutritious only to turn out to be unhealthy and possibly dangerous to her child's health down the road. That is the grim situation we're facing if the FDA approves the dairy industry's petition.

The industry contends that adding such artificial ingredients, such as aspartame and sucralose, to such wholesome foods would promote more healthy eating and boost kid appeal. Essentially it would increase milk consumption, which has been dropping with both children and adults. More consumption equals higher sales and higher sales equals more money for the companies that comprise the dairy industry and in turn create larger and more powerful organizations.

Recently, the FDA asked the public to submit comments and data about using artificial sweeteners in dairy foods. As of now, there is no FDA ruling on the petition.

Currently, dairy products can label products as "milk" if they are unsweetened or contain sweeteners with calories, such as high fructose corn syrup or sugar. Examples of sweetened dairy products include chocolate or strawberry milk and flavored yogurts.

Also, the current practice for artificial sweeteners in diary products is okay as long as they are clearly labeled accordingly...usually in small print listed in the ingredient list, but listed none the less.

So, what's wrong with adding artificial sweeteners such as aspartame that's already widely used in a variety of products including diet sodas and other low-calorie foods, such as yogurt? This ultra sweet ingredient, which is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, and is deemed safe in about 90 countries but several new and recent studies link artificially sweetened drinks, such as soda, to a wide variety of health issues, including: 

  • Higher risk for type II diabetes -- A new French study finds that sugar-free soft drinks increase type II diabetes. This was a long-term 14 year study who tracked nearly 70,000 women.
  • Link with depression -- A new National Institute of Health involving nearly 300,000 adults found those who drank soda daily were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than those who didn't.
  • Heart attack and stroke -- Drinking diet sodas daily may increase heart attack, stroke and other vascular events by 43 percent.
  • Kidney problems -- Researchers at Harvard University found that drinking two or more diet sodas daily could lead to a 30 percent drop in a measure of kidney function in women.
  • Pre-term delivery -- A Danish study of nearly 60,000 women found a link between drinking one or more diet sodas daily and a 38 percent increase in the risk of giving birth to pre-term babies. Additionally, the risk was 78 percent higher among pregnant women who drank four or more diet sodas daily.
  • Weight gain -- People who drink diet soda compared to those who do not drink it had a 70 percent greater increase in waist circumference and even worse, drinking two or more diet sodas daily led to waist circumference that was 500 percent greater than those who drank none.

While these studies point out some rather startling findings, these are not all the "proof" that have been uncovered...however aspartame continues to sit on the FDA's "safe list" year after year.

Don't want to feed your children or yourself artificial sweeteners with your non-fat milk? Then speak up, let your opinion be heard and contact the FDA regarding this petition. If nobody does, then it will sail through the system and be on the safe list for good.

More information can be found online at: 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 

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Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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