For years the dairy industry has led us to believe that milk “does a body good.” And while milk provides much-needed nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, and is a great source of protein to boot, it turns out that less people than ever are drinking the stuff, especially kids.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, only 25% of children age 9 to 19 drink the recommended amount (two to three servings, at about 8 ounces per serving) each day.

It’s a strong possibility that one of the reasons for milk drinking’s decline might be that schools have started to ban the sale of chocolate milk (and other flavored milks) because of high calorie content. So in order to compete with other low-calorie drinks such as diet soda, the dairy industry wants to replace sugar in flavored milk with non-caloric sweeteners such as aspartame.

Due to something a bit complicated called the standard-of-identity law, if chocolate milk is sweetened with aspartame under current rulings, it would need to be labeled “reduced-calorie,” and because kids typically don’t go for foods with that label, the dairy industry is trying to get this labeling changed. You can read the FDA’s statement here.

Consumers don’t need to worry too much, however, as aspartame will still be listed as an added ingredient on the ingredients label, just like any other additive. "Aspartame," "sucralose," or "acesulfame potassium" are the common artificial sweeteners to look for.

There have been some studies conducted that suggest moderate intakes of aspartame is not harmful to your health. According to the studies, the average person would also have to drink 21 cans of diet soda each day to reach unhealthy levels of the additive.

But the controversy around aspartame, including its possible link to cancer and other diseases, has many U.S. citizens concerned. Over 116,000 individuals have signed on to a Sum of Us petition that urges the FDA to "forbid milk and dairy products to include aspartame or other artificial sweeteners."

Source: FDA

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