IDFA and National Milk have filed a citizen’s petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting a modification of the standards for milk and other dairy products to allow the use of non-nutritive sweeteners.
The bottom line, according to National Milk’s Chris Galen in Thursday’s broadcast, is that schools are increasingly trying to use food and beverages that have reduced calorie content due to concern over the obesity rate among kids.
“In order for us to continue providing flavored milk to kids in schools, we have to allow for what are called non nutritive sweeteners,” Galen explained; things that are not sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
They can be used to sweeten flavored milk and still be called milk, he said, but if you use “caloric substitutes” like aspertine or suculose, things that many people use to sweeten coffee or tea, you can’t put them in milk and still call it milk. It doesn’t meet current standards of identity.
NMPF and IDFA is asking the FDA to update its standards of identity for milk to allow these sugar substitutes to be used because many schools have a requirement that what they purchase must fall under the legal definition of milk.
If you’re using these caloric substitutes, you can’t call it milk any more under present guidelines, Galen explained, even though the substitutes are safe and effective in making low calorie milk beverages available to kids in schools.
I asked Galen if we might open the door to something we don’t intend by changing these standards and he answered that “It’s difficult to speculate on what could happen 10 or 20 years down the road but, what we know right now is, that schools are really trying to reduce the caloric intake of the students served by the school lunch program and one of the areas they’re looking at is fluid milk.”
Flavored milk makes up about 70 percent of the milk served in schools, according to Galen, and if it was removed, it would be “a huge blow to that very important market for the dairy industry.”