Dairy industry proposes aspartame in chocolate milk

CREATED Feb 26, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - It is the milk that's often easy to get kids to drink; milks flavored like chocolate or strawberry. The dairy industry is pushing the Food & Drug Administration to allow artificial sweeteners such as aspartame in flavored milks.

TODAY'S TMJ4 asked shoppers outside a Milwaukee grocery store for reaction to that proposal.

"I would just want everything to be as natural as it can be," said shopper Dana Wells.

"I expect milk to be milk, not sweetened with artificial flavor or artificial sweeteners," said shopper Bertha Foster.

Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are among the natural sweeteners dairies may use and still label the product as milk. Dairies cannot use artificial sweeteners such as sucralose or aspartame like you drink in diet sodas. That could change.

The dairy industry wants permission to replace more natural sugars with artificial sweeteners. They argue it preserves the taste kids love while greatly reducing the calories.

"Certainly parents want to make choices for their children, whether it's nutritional choices or ingredient choices or food choices is that it would be clearly labeled what the product is providing and what indgredients are used," said Cary Frye, with the International Dairy Foods Association.

Marquette University biomedical science expert SuJean Choi said there is not enough evidence on the long-term health impacts of consuming artificial sweeteners.

"It would be very tragic to find out 20, 30 years down the road that high or long periods of consumption of such a thing might lead to some type of disease," Choi told TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray.

The FDA is taking comments on the proposed change through the end of May on this website.