| Opinion |

Dairy Industry Aims to Use Aspartame Secretly

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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation want to be able to use aspartame without having to include it on product labels, as is currently required by law.

The FDA has been ignoring the petition, which was filed in 2009. Until now.

The agency is considering the petition, and if the milk lobby has its way, you won't know when you're drinking a "low-fat" milk product, such as chocolate or strawberry milk, chock full of aspartame.

As it stands now, milk products using aspartame require a label stating they contain artificial sweeteners. If the milkmaids have their way, we won't know we are purchasing and consequently consuming harmful chemical sweeteners.

Research shows that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame alter brain chemistry, making people crave higher-calorie foods, which in turn cause health issues such as diabetes. Aspartame consumption has also been linked to headaches and brain cancer.

So why would the IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation want to disguise such harmful contents? For the children, of course.

The dairy lobby claims that allowing aspartame in milk makes it more healthful and will help reduce childhood obesity.

Yamelis Gonzalez, a local parent living in Kendall with her 4-year-old daughter, doesn't appreciate their concern. "I don't need their help regulating my kid's diet. Any good parent watches what goes into their children's mouths. What I don't like is not knowing what is in my kid's food."

As it stands, some so-called milk products can contain high-fructose corn syrup without declaring so on the label. At least the FDA is seeking public opinion on the petition, asking the public to submit feedback on the issue. I wish the FDA did that for everything.

Westchester resident Larry Galvez thinks the FDA has only one choice in the matter. "United States citizens rely on the FDA to help keep everyone informed of what exactly it is that we are consuming. And for that reason, it is the responsibility of the administration to uphold high standards and maintain the public educated and informed of what we are consuming at all times. If it is the ultimate decision of the administration to withhold information as in artificial sweeteners, then why list any ingredients of the products we eat at all?"

The sales of milk have declined since consumers have gravitated toward nondairy "milk" products such as rice, soy, and almond milk, and apparently the dairy industry has launched covert operations to regain its former glory. For shame.

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