by Jeff Clemetson, Editor
There was a time when milk was the second most popular non-alcoholic beverage in the world. The first being water, of course. Since then, fruit juices, then sodas, then energy drinks have won over consumers and milk has seen its popularity fall. Perhaps this is the reason for the totally insane move proposed by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) to make a “diet” milk that is sweetened with a known carcinogen – aspartame.
Aspartame is the ingredient used in a lot of diet sodas and sugar substitutes like the ones in packets at coffee shops. It is a chemical product that many studies have linked to increased risk of cancer, heart problems and even brain damage. It is one of the most common chemical food additives and one of the most unhealthy according to many doctors and health advocates.
Aspartame’s history has long been under a cloud of controversy and corruption. Aspartame’s creator, Searle, had the product approved by the FDA only to be be contested by a US Attorney named Samuel Skinner, who later dropped his investigation because Searle’s law firm offered him a lucrative job at their firm. The health risks of aspartame have been up for debate ever since.
So why would anyone want to add an artificial sweetener to milk? Because milk, especially chocolate and strawberry milk, is loosing market share to other beverages that can claim they are “low-calorie.” The IDFA argues that low-calorie milk will help fight childhood obesity.
This is all baloney for anyone who actually understands anything about nutrition. Milk, even whole milk, as long as it is natural, doesn’t contain anything that should cause obesity in the first place. What the IDFA wants to do is sell “diet” chocolate and strawberry milk, which is already as loaded with as many unhealthy food additives and artificial flavors as possible and still be able to recognized as milk. Aspartame will just be another chemical name on the back of a carton of Quik that nobody reads or understands, only this time the words “diet” or “low-calorie” will be on the front of the package.
And this is really what the IDFA’s goal is – to keep up the appearances of milk. What the IDFA has petitioned the FDA for is not the right to put aspartame in their milk products (they already can legally do that). What the IDFA is petitioning the FDA for is the right to still call their new chemically-formulated, cesspool beverage a milk product. Currently, the FDA only allows additives that have calories like chocolate, sugar or high-fructose corn syrup into milk and still be able to retain the right to call it “milk.” If the FDA grants the IDFA the permission to label beverages with aspartame as “milk” (and it likely will as the IDFA is a revolving door for former FDA officials), this could open up a floodgate of label changes for milk and other otherwise natural beverages, like juices or even water.
Of coarse, the only way to avoid drinking aspartame-laced milk will be to avoid any milk carton with the words “diet” or “low-calorie.” In fact here at Health and Fitness Talk, we recommend only drinking 100 percent whole raw milk from a local farmer. It is a nutrient-dense beverage with good fats your body needs and best of all doesn’t have any aspartame.