Whether it is due to increasing allergies or a simple distaste for its processed flavor, conventional milk sales have dropped some 25 percent in the U.S. since 1975, and consumption patterns are continuing to dwindle all across the country. So the National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association are petitioning to simply redefine the word "milk" to include other things like artificially flavored and sweetened chocolate and strawberry milk beverages.
If the industry gets its way, then not only would these and other processed foods suddenly be lumped into the "milk" category, but the chemical ingredients contained in these products would not have to be clearly delineated on the front of the packages. Gone are the days, in other words, of "low-calorie" drinks being clearly labeled -- "milk" products sold to children would be permitted to contain all sorts of hidden ingredients that could cause them harm.
"The front of the label is really what helps consumers make decisions quickly," says Sonya Angelone, a registered dietitian who spoke on behalf of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as quoted by CBS San Francisco. "People don't want to go to the grocery store and spend a lot of time trying to decipher the labels and figure out what's in there or what might not be in there."
Besides the fact that the proposal is unbelievably deceptive at its core, there is still a lack of substantial evidence to prove that the chemical additives the industry is hoping to hide in milk are even safe in the first place. Aspartame, which is perhaps the most well-known artificial sweetener in the world, has been repeatedly shown to cause chronic headaches, neurological damage, cancer and, yes, even weight gain and obesity, the very things it is marketed as supposedly combating.
"Aspartame is a dangerous chemical food additive, and its use during pregnancy and by children is one of the greatest modern tragedies of all," says Dr. Janet Starr Hull, author of the book Sweet Poison: How the World's Most Popular Artificial Sweetener is Killing Us. "The research and history of aspartame is conclusive as a cause of illness and toxic reactions in the human body."
Even the Academy seems to agree, having acknowledged in a letter to the FDA that the long-term safety of many non-nutritive sweeteners like aspartame, even when consumed at very low levels, has never been scientifically confirmed in young, developing children. Like many others, the Academy opposes the dairy industry's proposal to redefine milk, and the group is urging the FDA to act in the public interest by rejecting it.
"Milk's singular nature and its essential characteristics of purity and wholesomeness necessitate that consumers are readily made aware of any changes to its identity on the front of the package (such as current labeling of fat adulterations), including whether it is flavored or sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners," writes the Academy in its letter to the FDA, which you can read in full here:
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