When Is Flavored Milk, Milk?

Choc-Milk-LabelBy Carolyn Hudson, Registered Dietitian, Midwest Dairy Association

Are you confused about what you’ve been reading about aspartame and milk? ? You are not alone. There is a lot of misinformation around the dairy industry’s petition to amend the standard of identity for flavored milk.

Some chocolate milk is sweetened with a nutritive sweetener. What does nutritive mean? Nutritive sweeteners contain carbohydrate and provide energy (calories) and include sugar, agave, sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, beet sugar, and honey to name a few.

The other container’s front label has the same manufacturer’s name and Vitamin A & D but it clearly states fat-free chocolate drink (not milk). The Nutrition Facts label looks very close to the one pictured here but it has fewer calories — around 90 — and 12 grams of sugar or lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in milk. The only thing different in the ingredients list would be one of the seven Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved non-nutritive sweeteners, like stevia, aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose.

The current standard of identity for flavored milk only allows the use of nutritive sweeteners. So if the sweetener is nutritive, it is called milk. If it is non-nutritive, it is called a drink. The petition asks that this standard be changed so that milk made with non-nutritive sweeteners can be called milk.

While there are many non-nutritive sweeteners used in flavoring milk, it seems much talk has focused on aspartame. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position paper on nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners concludes that there is limited evidence to indicate that aspartame consumption affects appetite or food intake in children and that it is not associated with adverse effects in the general population. Consumers can rest assured that all FDA approved non-nutritive sweeteners are safe.

Now back to the label — how will the consumer know what sweetener is used? The fact is the ingredient list on flavored milk will not change. All ingredients will be listed on every container.

For more details, visit my blog post at dairymakessense.com.

This entry was posted in Food Facts, Healthy Living, Midwest Dairy Association. Bookmark the permalink.

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