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Tell the FDA to keep hidden aspartame out of dairy products

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: aspartame, dairy industry, food labeling

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(NaturalNews) The conventional dairy lobby is currently pressing for some major regulatory changes that would further deceive the public into buying unhealthy, processed foods laced with hidden artificial sweetening chemicals. And the public only has until May 21 to prevent this assault on honest food labeling from potentially becoming the new standard for flavored milk, yogurt, and various other milk-containing processed food products.

You may recall that back in February, a cohort of industrial milk producers and conventional dairy industry advocates filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) basically asking for permission to hide aspartame and other dangerous, artificial sweetening chemicals in flavored milk and dairy products. These groups claim that doing so will not only benefit public health, but actually increase food labeling transparency.

Such claims make absolutely no sense in the real world, of course, but they are exactly what the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) are right now asking the FDA to accept and approve as the new food labeling standard. And in the absence of massive public backlash against this preposterous proposal, it is likely that the corporate-controlled FDA will gleefully alter its requirements to accommodate the dairy industry's ridiculous demands.

But as required by law, the FDA is still accepting public comments on the petition until May 21, which means there is plenty of time for the public to take collective action against this atrocity. The petition itself contains a "Request for Comments" section that outlines specific tenets of the proposal for which public comments are requested - and it is important that health-conscious individuals everywhere take the time to leave them.

Hiding aspartame in 'characterizing flavoring ingredients' is unacceptable

Of primary concern is the dairy industry's request that the FDA modify its existing nutrition labeling standards to provision for the unlabeled inclusion of "non-nutritive," or zero-calorie, sweetening agents in flavored dairy products. Under the proposed amendments, a flavored dairy product like chocolate milk, for instance, would be allowed to contain the sweetening chemical aspartame within its flavoring ingredients, but not have to be labeled as such.

Why is the dairy industry trying to make this change? It admits in the petition that "reduced calorie" foods - "reduced calorie" is typically a code phrase for hidden artificial sweetening chemicals - are "not attractive to children." So in order to get children to buy and consume more of such products - for their own good, we are told - such labels need to be removed in order to make all flavored dairy products, whether they contain sugar or sweetening chemicals, appear identical.

Perhaps the most absurd aspect of the proposal is that the dairy industry claims hiding artificial sweeteners in flavored dairy products will "promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers." It is precisely this type of absurdity that the public needs to draw attention to by leaving comments in the Federal Register, which you can do here:

"Would the proposed amendments promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers?" asks the first paragraph in the "Request for Comments" section. "Will the inclusion of the non-nutritive sweeteners in the ingredient statement provide consumers with sufficient information to ensure that consumers are not misled regarding the characteristics of the milk they are purchasing?" asks another section.

Be sure to review the entire dairy industry petition and answer these important questions by leaving comments of opposition before May 21:

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) has also created step-by-step instructions and talking points you can use to quickly and effectively leave comments on the petition:

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