Sadly it is very difficult to identify the overall nutritional value of milk products in your market. While most of the GMO attention focuses on the produce aisle, the dairy aisle is by no means immune to GMO tampering. Dairy is an important part of most diets in the U.S. Other associated health risks aside, for now, if you choose to include dairy in your diet, and want to avoid GMOs, what should you look for? This week I will be looking at the ways GMOs find their way into the U.S. dairy products along with lists, tips, and resources to help you make informed choices.
Let’s start with something added to the milk and that’s not on the label and how some people are trying to expand that practice.
The FDA allows the dairy industry to use the unmodified “milk” label for products that contain added sugar or high fructose corn syrup such as flavored milk; chocolate, strawberry, etc. Both sugar and HFCS are more often than not manufactured from GE sugar beets and corn.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have filed a petition with the FDA requesting the agency “amend the standard of identity” for milk and 17 other dairy products to provide for the use of any safe and suitable sweetener as an optional ingredient—including non-nutritive sweeteners which could include aspartame, sucralose, or any other dangerous artificial sweeteners – without listing them on the label. Aspartame is manufactured from genetically modified bacteria and is the most dangerous food additive on the market today. It accounts for over 75% of adverse reactions reported to the FDA, including seizures and death. See Related Blog. Should the amendment pass you will never be able to tell if this has been added to milk because there will be no mention of it on the label.
The current standard requires processors to use nutrient content claims, such as “reduced-calorie,” on the front labels of flavored milk made with non-nutritive sweeteners.
The IDFA and NMPF claim the proposed amendments would “promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavored milk products.” Studies have shown many children are more inclined to drink flavored milk products than unflavored ones and the IDFA and NMPF maintain “consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims.” Because added sugar or high fructose corn syrup can be added without labeling they contend it would “confuse” or “scare away” the consumer by listing artificial sweeteners added to their products.
The other dairy products that would be affected by this amendment are:
- Acidified milk
- Cultured milk
- Dry cream
- Evaporated milk
- Half – and – half
- Heavy cream
- Light cream
- Light whipping cream
- Lowfat yogurt
- Nonfat dairy milk
- Nonfat dry milk fortified with vitamins A and D
- Nonfat yogurt
- Sour cream, and acidified sour cream
- Sweetened condensed milk
I spoke with a representative from the FDA this morning and she said the consumer response was far greater than they anticipated and they are still sifting through the 30,000 comments they received. Although their consumer comment deadline was just over a year ago no decision has been reached.
Personally I think we have a right to know what is in our food supply. I also don’t think consumers are so feeble minded they will become confused if artificial sweeteners are listed on reduced calorie or low fat dairy products. There seems to be a large segment of the population that doesn’t read food labels anyway. Let those of us who do read them have an honest account of ingredients. What do you think?