You may have just heard in the last few days about the dairy industry lobbying for the right to large-label market milk with artificial sweeteners as just plain milk. What you may not know is that the FDA had an open forum for consumer opinion on the matter dating from April 15, 2013 until May 21, 2013. Interestingly, the news didn’t seem to break “large” until the close of the forum.
If you’re relatively new to the story, it’s not that the industry wants to “hide” the sweetener, exactly. What they want to do is make sure that you just won’t see it unless you check the fine print of the ingredients listing. Currently, the standards for marketing with non-nutritive sweeteners (which is already allowed) dictates that it must be labeled “low-calorie chocolate milk” or some such, and cannot be branded “chocolate milk” alone. The reasoning behind the petition, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), is that marketing something as low-calorie is unattractive to children, and if they are allowed to conceal the artificial ingredients in this manner (read: putting the onus on the consumer to identify artificially sweetened products) then not only will they actually “promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity” but also “[to update] the standard of identity for milk in this way would promote honesty and fair dealing by creating consistency in the names of flavored milk products.”
Fortunately, the FDA did get some negative commentary and a petition was/(is being?) signed, but the thing I find truly scary is how little coverage there is on the matter… even now. At the time I’m writing this, I was unable to find anything about it at all on the NYT, CBC, or any of the minor networks like ABC, NBC, etc. The only reference I could find to it in something that actually resembled a genuine news site was on The Huffington Post back in February.
How did this manage to sneak so far under the radar?