FDA Hears Comment on Dairy Groups’ Petition to Redefine Milk

When I buy dairy products like milk, sour cream, yogurt, heavy whipping cream, and half and half, I expect to get relatively pure ingredients.  And if my dairy products contain other ingredients, I expect to see those ingredients listed on the label.  That way, I can make an informed decision regarding the purchase of that particular item.  If two dairy groups get their way though, “milk” may not mean milk anymore.

In short, two groups have petitioned the FDA to change the definition of milk (and 17 other dairy products).  They want to add “safe and suitable” sweeteners to these dairy products, and they don’t want to tell you that they’ve done it.  This means that when you buy a container of “plain” yogurt, you could be getting sweeteners that the manufacturer doesn’t have to tell you about.

These groups claim that the changes will help fight childhood obesity by allowing the addition of non-nutritive sweeteners to flavored milk, but I don’t buy it.  First, I don’t think that kids should have flavored milk in school to begin with, but even putting that aside, how would changing the standard of identity for sour cream or yogurt or half and half help?

In some ways, it reminds me of the swill dairies from the 1800s.  The cows’ milk was blue, so they’d add chalk to make it white and they’d mix in other ingredients to hide the bad taste.  I don’t need sweetener in my cream or sour cream, and if I want some, I’ll add it myself!

It’s getting harder and harder to find pure, real foods these days.  More and more companies want to hide ingredients and processes from the consumer, and I hope that it’s a practice that Americans won’t abide.

Rest assured, I’ll be commenting during the comment period.  I don’t know if it’ll make any difference, but I’ll certainly make my opinion known.  When I read “milk” on a label, I expect that it means “milk” and not “milk plus some non-nutritive sweetener because the milk wasn’t sweet enough because we took out some of the fat or added some other nastiness to the product”.  It certainly has me thinking more about dairy animals at the homestead.

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