IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation last week 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. According to the petition, this "small but valuable step" would help to promote more healthful eating practices and decrease childhood obesity.
The current standard requires processors to use special labeling, such as "reduced-calorie chocolate milk" or "no sugar added," for milk made with non-nutritive sweeteners. These phrases, according to market research, don't appeal to children and have contributed to an 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.
Nearly 70 percent of all milk consumed in schools is flavored, and the added sugars from nutritive sweeteners used in flavored milk contribute about 60 to 70 calories per eight-ounce serving. While eight ounces of unflavored lowfat milk contain 100 calories, the same size serving of flavored lowfat milk has 160 to 170 calories.
National organizations such as the Institute of Medicine and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation have proposed new guidelines that would limit the number of calories per serving in schools to 120 to 150 calories. The School Nutrition Association advocates that flavored milk should have 28 or fewer grams of sugar, which equals to a slightly higher range of 140 to 170 calories.
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 and is proposing a change to the yogurt standards to permit any type of sweeteners, including non-nutritive ones.
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 egg nog, cultured milk and whipping cream. The petition is available for download.
For more information, contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-220-3543.