Dairy Industry Wants to Put Aspartame in Milk

     WASHINGTON (CN) - Dairy industry groups have asked the Food and Drug Administration to be able to put artificial sweeteners in milk, and not change the label, claiming that it is so consumers can "more easily identify its overall nutritional value".
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     The Food and Drug Administration is asking for data related to those sweeteners.
     The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) filed a petition in 2009 requesting that the FDA amend its standard of identity for milk.
     The petition asked the agency to allow the use of "any safe and suitable" sweetener for milk and asked to amend the standards of identity for 17 other milk and cream products.
     Those products include sweetened condensed milk, whipping cream, yogurt and eggnog, which the groups say should be allowed to have "safe and suitable" sweeteners.
     The groups request that the FDA "allow optional characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk (e.g. chocolate flavoring added to milk) to be sweetened with any safe and suitable sweetener - including non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame."
     FDA regulations currently only allow milk products to contain "nutritive sweeteners" (those with calories) which the agency generally recognizes as safe.
     The groups say the amendments "would promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavored milk products."
     "They state that lower-calorie flavored milk would particularly benefit school children who, according to IDFA and NMPF, are more inclined to drink flavored milk than unflavored milk at school," the FDA wrote in its notice.
     The groups also say they would help with programs that aim to improve nutrition in school meals and argue that the proposed amendments would promote "honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace," the FDA wrote.
     The agency published a notice of the petition on Wednesday requesting comments, data, and information about the proposed amendment to the identity of milk products. The comments are due by May 21.