February 20, 2013
UPDATE: IDFA Statement Regarding the Petition to FDA on Sweeteners in Flavored Milk
"The Food and Drug Administration’s food labeling regulations require all food products that use 'non-nutritive' (or non-caloric) sweeteners – such as Stevia, sucralose and aspartame – to clearly list them in the ingredients list on their packaging. This petition would not change that, and consumers would continue to see at a glance whether or not a product contains sweeteners of this sort.
"The petition asks FDA to allow milk companies to use any safe and suitable sweetener in flavored milk and still label it 'milk,' which is currently not the case. It would help to provide more options for consumers looking for lower-sugar flavored-milk options.
"Regardless of the outcome of the petition, all milk products that contain sweeteners of any type will continue to clearly list those ingredients on the label."
FDA to Consider IDFA/NMPF Petition on Flavored Milk
Nearly four years ago, IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation filed a citizen's petition with the Food and Drug Administration requesting a modification of the standards for milk and other dairy products to allow the use of non-nutritive sweeteners. Just this week, FDA published the petition in the Federal Register along with the agency's request for public comment.
The petition was and continues to be a direct attempt to keep flavored milks in school cafeterias, as federal agencies and consumer groups continue to push for lower-calorie milk and foods on school menus to combat increases in childhood obesity.
The current standard requires processors to use special labeling, such as "reduced-calorie chocolate milk," for milk made with non-nutritive sweeteners. This phrase, according to market research, doesn't appeal to children and has contributed to the overall decline in milk consumption in schools, the petition states.
Allowing milk processors to use any "safe and suitable" sweetener in flavored milk and still label it "milk" would help to stem the drop in consumption, while promoting healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.
"Milk flavored with non-nutritive sweetener promotes public health by offering children and adolescents a beverage they are more likely to consume than plain milk and that has all of the nutritional benefits of milk and less sugar than milk flavored with nutritive sweeteners," the petition states.
There are at least five non-nutritive sweeteners approved by FDA for use in foods and beverages, including aspartame and sucralose. The agency has already updated the ice cream standard to allow these sweeteners in frozen desserts.
In addition to milk, the petition asks FDA to modify the standards for 17 other dairy products at the same time for administrative efficiency. These products include nonfat dry milk, sour cream, evaporated milk, whipping cream and yogurt. The petition and supporting attachments are available here.
For more information, contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, at email@example.com or 202-220-3543.