March 1—Milk sales have been sliding for decades, but the industry may soon have a new weapon for countering the trend: a mix of school lunches, product labeling, and aspartame. The question is whether it will work.
The story has the blogosphere buzzing this week, but the idea has been almost four years in the making. In 2009, the National Milk Producers Federation and International Dairy Foods Association, two industry trade groups, filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration to allow the use of aspartame—the artificial sweetener used in products like Diet Coke and Equal packets—in milk, but refrain from changes in how the product is labeled. Now that the FDA has published the petition and opened it up for public comment, the topic has gained nationwide attention.
Some have joked that the plan will lead to "diet milk," but that's the last thing the dairy industry wants.