A few weeks ago we wrote about a proposal to change labeling requirements on chocolate milk. The FDA has been petitioned by the dairy industry to remove any indication from the front of pack regarding the milk product’s sweetener source.
Most chocolate milk is sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup, but there are milks sweetened with aspartame, an artificial sweetener of concern to many parents. Currently, artificially sweetened milk requires a front of pack wording “reduced calorie”. The dairy industry would have that clue removed. This is order to encourage school kids to drink more milk. We asked you to petition the FDA not to allow this change.
Yesterday, the professional trade group formerly known as the American Dietetic Association, and today known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, issued a statement urging the FDA to reject the request of the dairy industry.
This is an interesting development for two reasons:
- The reason provided by AND for its position was technical, not moral. That’s to say, AND found no issue with the confusion this type of label change would cause, or the fact that aspartame is a very controversial sweetener from a safety perspective. In fact AND has no issues with aspartame. What the AND claims is that there is no evidence that changing the front of pack label would encourage an increase in consumption of milk. And “In addition, flavored milk is not a major source of added sugar in children’s diets.” So why even bother. Once can ask, should the AND weigh in on marketing tactics of food companies and their morality?
- The dairy industry is a sponsor of the AND. From past behavior of AND with respect to its sponsors, we expected AND to stay silent. The fact that AND went openly against a sponsor is a very interesting development. We worry that AND is sponsored by junk food companies because it has an effect on what AND says, and more importantly what it does not say when it comes to public health and nutrition policies. That’s why yesterday’s announcement is a positive signal. Perhaps a a next step, AND can have a clearer message when it comes to junk foods and beverages being sold by its other sponsors.
Our recommendations to parents:
- Keep your kids away from artificial sweeteners. They may be safe, but there is enough evidence that they are not. Why take a chance?
- Chocolate milk has 3 teaspoons of added sugar per cup. That’s a lot. If you were to add 3 tsp of sugar to plain milk, it would be way too sweet. Teach your kids to enjoy plain milk, or milk with just one teaspoon of nesquik or some other choco-flavoring.