Rightly or wrongly, aspartame is a highly controversial artificial sweetener. I’m no scientist and I haven’t researched it throughly enough to come to my own conclusion, but generally I try to eat minimally tampered with foods. This is where this story begins to present serious issues for me. The debate here is not whether aspartame will be allowed in milk; it already is. The issue is whether or not dairy producers will have to let consumers know that it is there. In a world where tuna isn’t tuna and beef is increasingly horse meat, we should demand more information than ever before as far as the substances we put in our bodies. As usual, I would expect the FDA to side with the lobbyists and corporate America rather than consumers’ best interests. From the Huffington Post:
Got diet milk? The dairy industry for the past three years has been hoping to sell you some under the guise of just plain “milk,” so that chocolate and strawberry varieties that contain artificial sweeteners would no longer need to carry a special label.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged a 2009 petition from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation that seeks to drop the FDA requirement to label milk and other dairy products as “artificially sweetened” when they contain sweeteners such as aspartame.
Aspartame is used in a range of products, including diet soda and yogurt, and is sold to consumers under the brand-name Equal (which also includes some other ingredients). Some researchers have found that artificial sweeteners alter people’s brain chemistry, making them crave higher-calorie foods, which in turn makes them more prone to obesity and diabetes.