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Sweetener approval would stem US school milk consumption decline: IDFA

By Mark Astley, 22-Feb-2013

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Fresh Milk

Permitting the use “any safe and suitable” sweeteners - including aspartame - in milk flavouring ingredients would help to stem the current milk consumption decline in US schools, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has claimed.

The IDFA comments follow the ascension of a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-filed citizen petition to the US Federal Register.

The petition in question - filed by the IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) in March 2009 - requested an amendment to the standard of identity for milk to allow optional characterising flavouring ingredients used in milk to be sweetened with “any safe and suitable sweetener.”

The IDFA and the NMPF also called on the FDA to modify the standard for 17 other dairy products including evaporated milk, whipping cream, yogurt and sour cream for at the same time for “administrative efficiency.”

The petition was published on the Federal Register wesbite earlier this week. The FDA has also issued a call for comments on the requested amendment.

Commenting on the ascension, the IDFA described the petition as a “direct attempt” to keep flavoured milk products in US schools.

Keep flavoured milk in schools

“The petition was and continues to be a direct attempt to keep flavoured milk 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,” said the IDFA.

“The current standard requires processors to use special labelling, 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.”

The proposed amendment to the standard would stem this downturn, the IDFA claimed.

“Allowing milk processors to use any ‘safe and suitable’ sweetener in flavoured milk and still label it ‘milk’ would help to stem the drop in consumption, while promoting healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.”

Improve US school nutrition profile

As further support for their 2009 petition, the IDFA and the NMPF also claimed that the proposed amendment would help improve the nutrition and health profile of food served in US schools.

“IDFA and NMPF state that the proposed amendments would promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavoured milk would particularly benefit school children who, according to IDFA and NMPF, are more inclined to drink flavoured milk that unflavoured milk at school,” said the Federal Register notice.

“Those initiatives include state-level programs designed to limit the quantity of sugar served to children during the school day,” said the FDA Federal Register notice.

According to the notice, the IDFA and NMPF also claim that the proposed amendment would “promote honesty and fairy dealing in the marketplace.”

The FDA has called for written and electronic comments by 21 May 2013. Click here to read the document or comment.