Big Dairy Petitions FDA to Allow Unlabeled Use of Aspartame in Dairy Products–

By Dr. Mercola

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have filed a petition with the FDA1 requesting the agency “amend the standard of identity” for milk and 17 other dairy products. This was done to provide for the use of any safe and suitable sweetener as an optional ingredient — including non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame to deceive you by not having to indicate its use on the label.

It’s a move that could endanger your health for decades to come, and disproportionally harm underprivileged children who rely on school lunches for the bulk of their nutrition.

If the amendment goes through, that would mean anytime you see the word “milk” on the label, it could include aspartame, sucralose, or any other dangerous artificial sweetener, but you could never be quite sure, since there will be no mention of it — not by listing the artificial sweetener used, nor with a no- or low-calorie type label, which is a tip-off that the product might contain a non-nutritive sweetener.

The IDFA and NMPF claim the proposed amendments would “promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavored milk products” since many children are more inclined to drink flavored milk products than unflavored milk.

According to the Federal Register:

“[T]he proposed amendments would assist in meeting several initiatives aimed at improving the nutrition and health profile of food served in the nation’s schools. Those initiatives include state-level programs designed to limit the quantity of sugar served to children during the school day.”

As if that’s not nonsensical enough, the IDFA and NMPF argue that the proposed amendments would “promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace.” How could altering the definition of “milk” to include unidentified artificial sweeteners possibly promote honesty or fair dealing in the marketplace, you might ask? Read on…

When One Lie + Another Lie = ‘Honesty’

According to the IDFA and NMPF, nutrient content claims such as “reduced calorie” are not attractive to children and have led to an overall decline in milk consumption in schools. Essentially, as with the GMO labeling issue, they don’t want you or your child to be “confused” or perhaps “scared away” by truthful labeling…

The IDFA and NMPF actually maintain that “consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims.”

They also state that consumers generally don’t recognize milk — including flavored milk — as necessarily containing sugar. Therefore, since you don’t realize that flavored milk might contain added sugar, sweetening the product with non-nutritive artificial sweeteners, while listing it as simply “milk” on the label, will make it easier for you to identify its overall nutritional value.

Get it? If not, you’re not alone.

In order to understand this twisted logic, you need to know that the FDA already allows the dairy industry to use the unmodified “milk” label for products that contain added sugar or high fructose corn syrup.2

Artificial sweeteners are allowed to be added, but must currently be listed on the label. Quoting Section 130.10 of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, the IDFA and NMPF claim no extra labeling is required for artificial sweeteners because sugar is added to milk without labeling it, and “the modified food is not inferior in performance,” and “reduced calories are not attractive to children.”

Therefore marketing products as such is neither of benefit or detriment to anyone… Knowing that nutritive sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup can be added without being listed as an ingredient, is it any wonder that people generally “don’t recognize” these products contain added sugar?

Going along with their twisted reasoning, since they don’t have to tell you there’s HFCS in that flavored milk or yoghurt — which leaves you ignorant of the fact that it’s there — it might “confuse” you were they to tell you another version contains an artificial sweetener. It also puts those products at a market disadvantage, since the HFCS-containing products don’t have to list it — the HFCS is simply hidden as part of the “milk” designation.

Hence, hiding ALL added sweeteners from you would “promote honesty” and “fair dealing in the marketplace.” Not only is this a perfect example of how you may be consuming hidden fructose in your diet, even if you are an avid label reader… it’s also a valuable lesson in just how little you’re allowed to know about the foods you buy.

Which Products Would Be Affected?

The petition also requests the FDA similarly amend the standards of identity for 17 other milk and cream products, to allow the use of any safe and suitable sweetener in the optional ingredients, without specifying the type of sweetener used on the label:
Acidified milk Cultured milk Sweetened condensed milk Nonfat dairy milk
Nonfat dry milk fortified with vitamins A and D Evaporated milk Dry cream Heavy cream
Light cream Sour cream, and acidified sour cream Light whipping cream Eggnog
Half-and-half Yoghurt Lowfat yoghurt Nonfat yoghurt

What Prompted the Request to Alter Standard of Identity of Milk?

Many are surely scratching their heads wondering WHY anyone would want to alter the definition of milk. One potential clue — besides sheer unbridled greed on behalf of the dairy industry who’d rather not give you the option of choosing — can be found in an April 13, 2011 letter from the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) to Julie Brewer, Chief of the Policy and Program Development Branch of the Child Nutrition Division of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).3

The letter was in response to the USDA’s proposed rule to revise the meal patterns and nutrition requirements for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. One of the proposed changes was to limit flavored milk products to fat-free versions only — a change the NMPF claimed would have a negative impact on the goal of increasing overall milk consumption. The letter reads in part:

“The proposed rule will not be a success if milk consumption drops as a result of flavored milk choices that are not appealing (or at least not as appealing as competitive beverages students may bring to school from elsewhere). Flavored milk was included as an option in the proposed rule in recognition that the small amount of added sugar (flavored milk contributes only 2-3% of added sugars to the diets of children and adolescents) is an acceptable trade-off for the extensive nutrient contribution flavored milk provides.

Therefore, NMPF urges the Department to modify the proposed rule to include both low-fat and fat-free flavored milk as options available to schools. To limit the potential for additional calories in a low-fat flavored milk (as compared to a fat-free formulation) we urge the establishment of a calorie limit on flavored milk of 150 calories per eight-ounce serving.

This will provide schools the flexibility to procure milk products that maintain high levels of acceptability and nutrient intake, while also assuring that flavored milk fits within overall calorie limits for meals. Many milk processors have proactively committed to and met a goal of 150 calories per serving as a way to limit the amount of sugar in flavored milk, and have worked within this constraint to formulate products that have demonstrated acceptability among students in schools across the country.”

In essence, it has little to do with making your purchasing decisions easier, and more to do with:

Fooling your kids into drinking otherwise unpopular fat free or low fat milk, and
Allowing the national school breakfast and lunch programs to “look good” by successfully reducing overall calories of the meals while simultaneously helping the dairy industry protect profits

I’m not sure what’s more frustrating here, the fact that the USDA insists on using the flawed theory of calories as a measure of the “healthfulness” of school meals; their misguided insistence on fat free and low fat products to combat obesity; or their ignorant stance on artificial sweeteners.

When combined, what you end up with is a nutritional nightmare. How can anyone believe a fat free, hormone-laced pasteurized milk-like product from cows raised on genetically engineered corn, flavored with artificial flavors, colors and chemical sweeteners might actually do a growing body good? The nutritional illiteracy within these agencies is staggering… yet they’re responsible for making decisions that affect over 30 million school children across the US on a daily basis.

Take Action NOW! Let the FDA Know What You Think of the Proposed Rule

The FDA is currently accepting public comments on this petition. You have until May 21st, 2013 to submit your comments, and I urge you to do so right away. You can submit your comments electronically or via regular mail. For instructions, please see the following link to the Federal Register.

Milk Use Guidelines

While we are on topic of milk I would also like to add my latest recommendations. As always of course, the only acceptable dairy products would be raw unpasteurized organic varieties. Raw is more important than organic so don’t be fooled. Although raw milk is only available commercially in a few states in the US, nearly everyone can get it by going to

You should only drink whole milk; the lower the fat content the more processed and less wholesome it is. It is also probably wise for most adults, especially if they are overweight, have diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol to limit drinking milk because of the sugar (lactose) content. For those, fermented dairy like cheese and homemade yogurts are a better choice.

Aspartame — A Trojan Horse that Can Wreck Your Health

Aspartame is primarily made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The phenylalanine has been synthetically modified to carry a methyl group, which provides the majority of the sweetness. That phenylalanine methyl bond, called a methyl ester, is very weak, which allows the methyl group on the phenylalanine to easily break off and form methanol.

You may have heard the claim that aspartame is harmless because methanol is also found in fruits and vegetables. However, in fruits and vegetables, the methanol is firmly bonded to pectin, allowing it to be safely passed through your digestive tract. Not so with the methanol created by aspartame; there it’s not bonded to anything that can help eliminate it from your body.

Methanol acts as a Trojan horse; it’s carried into susceptible tissues in your body, like your brain and bone marrow, where the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzyme converts it into formaldehyde, which wreaks havoc with sensitive proteins and DNA. All animals EXCEPT HUMANS have a protective mechanism that allows methanol to be broken down into harmless formic acid. This is why toxicology testing on animals is a flawed model. It doesn’t fully apply to people.

There IS an Obvious Biological Explanation for Aspartame Reactions…

The industry is fond of claiming that there’s “no biological explanation” for the health problems reported by so many after consuming aspartame. Of course this is meant to make you think such reports aren’t true, or are unrelated to aspartame. Alas, there is in fact an obvious biological explanation according to Dr. Monte:

“‘Here is the story: there is a major biochemical problem here,’ he says. ‘Methyl alcohol is known now, and has been known since 1940, to be metabolized differently by humans from every other animal.'”

Here’s how it works: Both animals and humans have small structures called peroxisomes in each cell. There are a couple of hundred in every cell of your body, which are designed to detoxify a variety of chemicals. Peroxisome contains catalase, which help detoxify methanol. Other chemicals in the peroxisome convert the formaldehyde to formic acid, which is harmless, but this last step occurs only in animals. When methanol enters the peroxisome of every animal except humans, it gets into that mechanism. Humans do have the same number of peroxisomes in comparable cells as animals, but human peroxisomes cannot convert the toxic formaldehyde into harmless formic acid.

So to recap: In humans, the methyl alcohol travels through your blood vessels into sensitive areas, such as your brain, that are loaded with ADH, which converts methanol to formaldehyde. And since there’s no catalase present, the formaldehyde is free to cause enormous damage in your tissues.

Download Interview Transcript

Symptoms from methanol poisoning are many, and include headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and shooting pains in the extremities, behavioral disturbances, and neuritis. The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision problems including misty vision, progressive contraction of visual fields, blurring of vision, obscuration of vision, retinal damage, and blindness. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication and may cause birth defects.

A Historical Timeline of Aspartame

Aspartame is the number one source of side-effect complaints to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with over 10,000 complaints filed and over 91 symptoms documented that are related to its consumption. With that many reports of adverse effects, it’s hard to believe aspartame is still allowed on the market — let alone being weaseled in as an unlabeled ingredient in dairy products of all kinds.

Unfortunately, aspartame’s approval was and still is largely a political affair. Many readers have long forgotten what 60-Minutes’ correspondent Mike Wallace stated in his 1996 report on aspartame — that the approval of aspartame was “the most contested in FDA history.” And for good reason. At the time, independent studies had found it caused brain cancer in lab animals, and the studies submitted by G.D. Searle to the FDA for the approval were quickly suspected of being sloppy at best.

To get an idea of of how aspartame made it through the FDA approval process despite warning signs of potential health hazards and alleged scientific fraud, take a look at the historical timeline of aspartame:

The Most Dangerous Food Additive on the Market: Are You Being Affected?

Unfortunately, aspartame toxicity is not well known by physicians, despite its frequency. Diagnosis is also hampered by the fact that it mimics several other common health conditions. It’s quite possible that you could be having a reaction to artificial sweeteners and not even know it, or be blaming it on another cause. To determine if you’re having a reaction to artificial sweeteners, take the following steps:

Eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet for two weeks.
After two weeks of being artificial sweetener-free, reintroduce your artificial sweetener of choice in a significant quantity (about three servings daily).
Avoid other artificial sweeteners during this period.
Do this for one to three days and notice how you feel, especially as compared to when you were consuming no artificial sweeteners.
If you don’t notice a difference in how you feel after re-introducing your primary artificial sweetener for a few days, it’s a safe bet you’re able to tolerate it acutely, meaning your body doesn’t have an immediate, adverse response. However, this doesn’t mean your health won’t be damaged in the long run.
If you’ve been consuming more than one type of artificial sweetener, you can repeat steps 2 through 4 with the next one on your list.

If you do experience side effects from aspartame, please report them to the FDA (if you live in the United States) without delay. It’s easy to make a report — just go to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator page, find the phone number for your state, and make a call reporting your reaction.

Will You Allow the Industry to Poison Dairy with Aspartame?

Again, if this proposed amendment goes through, anytime you see the “milk” on the label, it could include any variety of artificial sweeteners. Who knows where it might end. Imagine if it goes further, and any processed food containing “milk” becomes permitted to include artificial sweeteners without listing them… This is a slippery slope I believe can only end in destruction of health.

The FDA is currently accepting public comments on this petition. You have until May 21st, 2013 to submit your comments, and I urge you to do so right away. You can submit your comments electronically or via regular mail. For instructions, please see the following link to the Federal Register.

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