WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 - The Food and Drug Administration has agreed to consider a nearly four-year-old petition from dairy trade associations to allow the use of “any safe and suitable sweetener as an optional ingredient” in milk and 17 other dairy products.

FDA asked today for public comment by May 21 on the petition filed by the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) in March 2009 seeking amendments in FDA’s official standards of identity for milk and its products.

IDFA and NMPF said that allowing the use of non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame “would promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavored milk products.”

“Lower-calorie flavored milk would particularly benefit school children who, according to IDFA and NMPF, are more inclined to drink flavored milk than unflavored milk at school,” FDA said.

IDFA and NMPF also argue that the proposed amendments would help meet several initiatives aimed at improving the nutrition and health profile of food served in the nation’s schools under restrictive (USDA standards. Many state and local school bodies have set limits on the amount of sugar served to children during the school day, with some going as far as banning the more popular chocolate milk in the last 2-3 years because of concerns that its relatively high sugar content contributes to obesity.



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