For generations children have been encouraged to drink milk to build strong, healthy bones and teeth. Even as adults most of us have always heard of how valuable this food is when it comes to preserving our health. It contains calcium, a vital nutrient to provide us with what we need, especially as females, to ward off dreaded osteoporosis in old age. Milk also is an excellent source of protein, one of the chief building blocks of the body. Added Vitamins A and D round out the complex of healthy nutrition we are all exhorted to consume daily. If you reduce the fat and drink low-fat or fat-free (aka skim) versions, you avoid the problems of added cholesterol and unhealthy saturated fats from your diet.
Aside from those who have allergies to dairy products or who are lactose intolerant, cow’s milk has been revered as a staple of the western diet. Schools include milk in meal menus, especially for those children who, due to economic factors at home, require enrollment in a free or reduced cost lunch programs. Yet despite the healthy ideals behind the promotion of milk consumption, the truth is that most children simply don’t care for this beverage anymore. They have become used to soft drinks such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Mountain Dew, all of which are laden with sugar and caffeine. Many children even indulge today in energy drinks like Red Bull, for even more stimulants. Milk just doesn’t have the kick they crave. If forced to choose cow juice, they will gravitate toward chocolate milk or other artificially-flavored varieties. Sure, they do contain the same properties of regular milk, but they also are loaded with sugar and artificial chemical additives.
So now, in its great wisdom, the Food and Drug Administration is gearing up to commit another abomination to nature: artificially sweetened milk and other dairy products. Since parents complain about their kids chugging down so much sugar in flavored milk, and apparently are unaware they have the power to tell their offspring “NO!”, the idea has come up that adding aspartame, sucralose, saccharin or other non-nutritive sweeteners to dairy products will attract them. Instead of simply telling schools to stop stocking unhealthy beverages, the notion is that it’s better to just let children just have what they want but slightly differently.
The International Dairy Foods Association, together with the National Milk Producers Federation, has come to the FDA to persuade them to allow this crime against nature. Considering that the best thing for consumers is to keep them buying milk products by keeping their sweet teeth satisfied, they want to be allowed to add artificial sweeteners to milk, yogurt, and oddly enough, sour cream, as well as pretty much all other varieties. The argument is that there will be less of a health threat if real sweeteners currently used like sugar and high fructose corn syrup are replaced with something calorie-free. That logic is similar to saying that waterboarding is not as harmful as drowning therefore the government should allow it to be used.
Many studies are finding, over and over, that artificial sweeteners are hazardous to health. Starting with cyclamate and saccharin back in the 1960s to the currently-in-vogue aspartame, links to cancer, hyperactivity, seizures and various other disorders have been found resulting from continued long-term exposure to these chemicals. Other artificial sweeteners on the market have all been found to bear harmful side effects as well. (Note: stevia is a natural sugar substitute, derived from a plant.)
The marketers of this plan also are claiming that, since sugar in its several incarnations do not have to be listed as added ingredients on milk packaging, its substitutes also won’t need to be shown. That is because, according to Section 130.10 of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (1990), the change will not make any difference to the “performance” of the product, and since reduced-calorie labels are not attractive to children anyway, who cares?
Here’s news for the FDA, the IDFA and the NMPF: a lot of people do care. What goes into milk and all dairy products matters. Whether it’s on the basis of false advertising alone, scamming the public into believing what they buy is simply good, wholesome milk, or the fact that artificial sweeteners are not healthy and should not be part of what is supposed to be a nutritious meal, duping the consumer like this is wrong. What parents and all shoppers should do is start brown-bagging lunches. If you’re using food stamps or WIC you can surely buy “real” milk. Reject what the schools offer. Start eating at home more often. Control what you and your children consume. Don’t rely on the government to tell you what is safe to eat, because the odds are they won’t.
For more information on the plot by the dairy industry and the FDA to contaminate milk, see: