What's New: Aspartame in Milk?

A push to get the FDA to allow chemical sweeteners in dairy products


We like to celebrate the occasional gratuitous kitchen product or cooking tool splurge with "What's New," but sometimes food news pops up that seems important (or bizarre) enough to share.
And since so many of us drink milk (good job, Milk ads), we figured this might be one of them. An article posted on Delish.com describes recent efforts by the National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Association to get the federal government to allow “any safe and suitable” sweetener into milk and “17 other dairy products.” And they don’t seem to want you to know about it.  

Milk Bottle image via Shutterstock
Not that they’re trying to spike your 2% with gratuitous Equal. In fact, the petition is really aimed at kids. It seeks to change the current milk standard to allow for “characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk”—those add-ins that make milk seem tastier, chocolatier, maybe even a bit cooler—“to be sweetened with any safe and suitable sweetener—including non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame.” 
We’re not trying to reject artificial sweeteners outright (full confession: the office is ridiculously well stocked with Splenda). But the implication that aspartame and its chemical ilk are 100% safe, and that we’ve all agreed and high-fived on this, is a bit bold. Then again, Cancer.org seems to say aspartame is (so far) proven harmless. 
Bolder still might be the claim that “the proposed amendments would promote more healthful eating habits and, ultimately, reduce childhood obesity." Maybe it's more ironic than bold, since the IDFA and NMPF don't actually want to advertise “reduced calorie” on product labels, likely becauase it’ll scare kids away faster than the Boogey man with a fistful of Brussels sprouts.
But how can school-age children known they’re making a “healthy choice” if that choice isn’t stated outright? If it’s effectively hidden from them—and their parents? Clearly there are some questions to answer, and no doubt a lot to be said. The good news: the FDA is accepting public comment until May 21, 2013. Many people have already weighed in—apparently tending towards the “hell no” side of the question. But there’s still time for debate. What’s your take? Tell us, or them, and be a part of the process. After all, the results could end up in your next bowl of bran flakes. 

Mentioned in this article


  • My wife and daughter both drink a lot of milk daily. Aspartame is a migraine trigger for both of them. If they put it in milk and don't tell us, my family of four who drinks at least 4-5 gallons a week would stop altogether....and we wouldn't be very happy about it. Thinking about other dairy products, every one of us eats yogurt daily. I guess that would be gone from our refrigerator too! As far as I'm concerned, we should have FULL disclosure of what is contained in our food and drink. Period.

    Mar 15, 2013 at 12:43 PM

  • Snooth User: GregAtchley
    Hand of Snooth
    134235 82

    It seems ridiculous (udderly) to sweeten a beverage that ALREADY contains as much as 14 grams of sugar per serving. Who needs cows milk as a beverage anyway? Unsweetened almond milk is a much healthier choice all around.

    Mar 15, 2013 at 1:22 PM

  • Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    Mar 15, 2013 at 4:12 PM

  • Snooth User: groult1
    579000 8

    appalling. As stated above, full disclosure is required. What 's to hide? Hard to believe that a 'Marketing' dept would stoop that low. I would consider taking it off my table.

    Mar 15, 2013 at 4:32 PM

  • Snooth User: vegasres
    522266 90

    Money makes the world go round, doesn't it? I am sick of monied interests trying to make a buck by genetically or chemically altering our food supply! I am allergic to aspartame and all the artificial sweeteners. I drink almond milk these days because cows are already exposed to chemicals that change their genetic makeup. Almond milk is readily available and is also really easy to make from almonds, water, and honey.

    Mar 15, 2013 at 4:48 PM

  • 4-5 gallons of milk a week??? Are u kidding, why would
    U need that much milk... Hate to break it to you but dairy is not good for you, increases allergies not to mention that we are humans not cows, as well as the fact that the calcium in milk is in a form that is not readily absorbable in the body. But keep watching those adds and keep drinking that Milk!!! 4-5 gallons a week, I'm astonished?

    Mar 15, 2013 at 5:03 PM

  • gotta love the knee-jerk responses "AAHHH, don't drink milk!!" Sheesh....if you like almond milk, fine...if you're an anti-dairy nut, fine...but please refrain from telling others what they should or should not consume. Frankly, it isn't your business in any way, shape, or form. I don't recall them asking for your opinion either. The subject at hand....The food label law is pretty solid on identifying additives, especially potential allergens. IMO, milk is fine the way it is, a naturally nutrient-rich, healthy food straight from the cow (or goat, or sheep). Why cater to the idea that everything has to be sweetened? But, it's a free world (yeah right) so if they want to market a sweetened product, just label it with the stuff they have added. Simple enough. Give US the information and let US make the choice. Better yet, everyone get their own dairy animal and then you know what went into your milk!

    Mar 15, 2013 at 6:46 PM

  • I read Kevin Trudeau's book "Natural Cures they don't want you to know about" and it is pretty negative on aspartame, among other chemical additives. My 2 degrees don't make me a food expert, but his book is compelling me to do some followup validation reading. My 'gut take' is the industry is looking for another marketing strategy that is not in the public interest but instead is profit motivated. They probably want to hook kids on some new flavoring to increase sales and create further product loyalties - my guess is that it will get kids fatter than they are, and, as we all know, fatter folks eat and drink more, so the profit yield should be good for the dairy industry. .... guess this is the american way.


    Mar 15, 2013 at 6:46 PM

  • I too am thankful that this has been brought out for all to read. I love my morning coffee with a splash of milk, BUT no Sugar please!!! I also like my morning cereal with Milk but not sugar. WHO needs more sweet stuff anyway???? There is enough out there already. It's hard to find yogurt without 15 grams of sugar or more in one serving. Aspartime may not be sugar, but it is SWEET, and that alone will drive our children to crave sweets even more. I VOTE to Keep it out of our MILK. I for one will not be buying it anymore with that additive.

    Mar 15, 2013 at 8:46 PM

  • Snooth User: nikhoog
    511617 42

    To Snoother: thanks for striking a note of common sense in this otherwise morass of babble!

    Mar 15, 2013 at 10:17 PM

  • Snooth User: Tukaussey
    461584 40

    Why can't they just leave milk alone, nothing wrong with milk the way it is.

    Mar 16, 2013 at 10:18 AM

  • Snooth User: Grifflin
    454773 1

    dairy products shouldn't be consumed after weaning from the breast anyway... So bad for you!!

    Mar 16, 2013 at 8:51 PM

  • Snooth User: Tukaussey
    461584 40

    No Cheese, no Butter, no Sour Cream, no Cream Cheese, no Cottage Cheese, no Yogert, no Ice Cream, no Whipped Cream, plus countless other items that use milk, for you ether! :)

    Mar 16, 2013 at 10:27 PM

  • Snooth User: annahumm
    785138 7

    Why muck with a good product? Leave pure clean good tasting milk alone and let individuals add flavour if they want to.

    Mar 24, 2013 at 6:00 PM

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