*International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) represents dairy manufacturers, processors, and marketers
*Petitioned to add artificial sweeteners to milk without special notation on package
*Consumers Union sharply critical of petition to add sweeteners to milk without labeling
* Close ally of the sweetener and candy manufacturers
*Calls ice cream a “nutritious” snack for kids…
*… but opposed more fruits/vegetables in Women & Infant Children nutrition program
*Opposed FDA changes to recommended daily nutrients since dairy could seem less healthy
*Spent more than $1.5 million annually in lobbying from 2011-2013
*Spent over $60,000 to send members of Congress and staff to tropical destinations
IDFA Petitioned to Put Artificial Sweeteners in Milk without Additional Labeling
In 2013, the IDFA petitioned the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to allow the use of artificial sweeteners in milk without additional labeling requirements.
According to the FDA, the petition calls for FDA to change the “standard of identity” for milk. A standard of identity is the federal requirement that determines what ingredients some food products must (or may) contain to be marketed under certain names.
The petition asks the FDA “to amend the standard of identity for flavored milk and 17 other dairy products (including nonfat dry milk, heavy cream, eggnog, half-and-half and sour cream) so that non-nutritive sweeteners are among the standard ingredients. The products would then not require any additional description on the label.”
“If we granted the petition, a carton of chocolate milk made with non-nutritive sweeteners would simply say ‘chocolate milk,’ the same as a carton made with nutritive sweeteners, such as sugar,” said Felicia Billingslea, director of FDA’s Food Labeling and Standards staff. “You would need to read the ingredient list, which is typically on the back or the side of the product, in order to tell the difference between the two.” [Food & Drug Administration]
The Food & Drug Administration provides the following visual representation of how the change would impact labeling:
Consumers Union: IDFA Proposal “Would Decrease, Not Increase, Fair Dealing In TheInterest of Consumers”
The Consumers Union opposes IDFA’s petition and issued comments critical of the plan.
“We urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reject the IDFA/NMPF petition, because we believe the proposed changes will not “promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers,” as claimed by the proponents, but instead could have just the opposite effect,” Consumers Union wrote to the Food and Drug Administration.
“We think this does not ‘promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers’ as claimed in the petition. Indeed, we believe the petition is misleading in that regard, and that the proposed change would decrease, not increase, fair dealing in the interest of consumers. [Consumers Union comments of IDFA petition, 5/21/13]
Chicago Tribune: Petition “Has Caused an Uproar Among Some Parents, Consumer Activists and Physicians”
According to the Chicago Tribune, “The request has caused an uproar among some parents, consumer activists and physicians, who see it as little more than a ploy to sell more milk by confusing consumers about what’s in the product.”
“The critics particularly object to the idea of marketing the milk to children as part of the federal school lunch program because, they believe, children are not likely to read ingredient lists. They also cite doubts — including those of government-commissioned medical committees — about whether artificial sweeteners are safe for developing bodies,” the Tribune reported. [Chicago Tribune, 5/9/13]
Green Bay Gazette: IDFA Proposal “Distorts Reality”
A 2013 editorial in the Green Bay Gazette criticized the IDFA plan to use artificial sweeteners in milk without additional labeling.
The proposal would “make it less apparent whether artificial ingredients have been added to your regular or flavored milk,” the Gazette wrote.
“In other words, nowhere on the label of the milk carton will it say “reduced calorie” or “reduced sugar” or words that would let you know they’ve been artificially sweetened. So you might grab a jug of regular milk only later to realize it tastes sweet or your chocolate milk tastes differently. Then when you examine the ingredients you see that it has been artificially sweetened. (At that time let’s hope that you’re not allergic to such artificial additives.)…
“… This idea is wrong on many counts. Let’s put aside the safety of artificial sweeteners. Promoting consumption of milk with an artificial sweetener without putting that on the label distorts reality, plus we question the effectiveness of serving kids (or adults) artificially sweetened drinks in a fight against obesity…”
“… If the dairy industry believes in artificially sweetening milk, then it should believe in labeling its products as such.” [Green Bay Gazette, 4/9/13]
IDFA is Closely Tied to the Sweeteners and Candy Industry
The International Dairy Foods Association is a close ally of the sweeteners industry.
Member of the Coalition for Sugar Reform
The IDFA is a member of the so-called “Coalition for Sugar Reform,” a front group that lobbies for candy makers who want access to cheap sugar from overseas. [Coalition for Sugar Reform; Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/20/13]
Co-Hosts International Sweetener Colloquium
In 2014, the IDFA was a co-host of the International Sweetener Colloquium at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, California. The Sweetener Colloquium is one of the premier events of the sweeteners industry. [IDFA.org]
The IDFA will once again co-host the Sweetener Colloquium in 2015, this time at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando in Orlando, Florida. [Supermarketnews.com]
IDFA Says That Ice Cream is a “Nutritious” Snack for Kids…
In 2013, the IDFA commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its “Smart Snacks in Schools” foods standards that included ice cream as options.
“We applaud USDA for highlighting the importance of dairy in children’s diets and taking the necessary steps to help kids meet the dietary recommendations for milk and dairy products,” said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president. “Milk, yogurt, cheese, dairy snacks and ice cream are all options that are nutritious and tasty snacks for kids.” [IDFA press release, 6/27/13]
… But Opposed Changes to Add More Fruits and Vegetables to Women and Infant Children (WIC) Nutrition Program
In December 2002, then-IDFA CEO E. Linwood Tipton vowed that his organization would oppose adding more fruits and vegetables to the Women and Infant Children (WIC) program if that meant fewer dairy products in the program.
“In July, for instance, the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee that [Sen. Herb] Kohl chairs demanded the USDA immediately publish revised food specifications consistent with ‘the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid.’ But that was before the dairy industry, a powerful constituency in Kohl’s home state, started to worry that a government effort to combat obesity in Americans might lead the Agriculture Department and Congress to replace some dairy products with fruits and vegetables in federal nutrition programs. Simply adding fruits and vegetables to the WIC program probably would not have touched off the current lobbying battle. But Congress is unlikely to increase funds for the program, so adding new foods would mean cutting money for dairy. E. Linwood Tipton, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, wrote [Dept. of Agriculture Secretary Ann] Veneman on Sept. 6 that the organization ‘will vigorously oppose WIC food packages that detrimentally affect the rightfully prominent role of dairy products in the package, unless USDA grounds its new policies in sound science that fully supports the revisions.’” [CQ Weekly, 12/13/02]
IDFA Opposed Adjusting Recommended Daily Values of Nutrients Because They Could Make Dairy Products Appear Less Healthy
In July 2014, the IDFA submitted a comment to the Food and Drug Administration, which was considering rule changes regarding recommended daily values of nutrients, claiming that such changes would make dairy products appear less nutritious.
“Changes to nutrients that are required to be declared or to the daily values and corresponding percent Daily Values declared, can make a food appear to have a lower nutritive value, even if no changes have been made to the product. This may be particularly true for foods and beverages such as dairy products that are naturally nutrient-rich, or that may not be able to modify nutrient levels to accommodate newly proposed Daily Values because of specific provisions in the standards of identity.” [IDFA comment on proposed FDA rule, Docket No. FDA-2012-N-1210, regulations.gov, submitted 7/31/14]
Spent More Than $1.5 Million Annually Lobbying Congress
According to OpenSecrets.org, IDFA spent more than $1.5 million annually lobbying Congress between 2011 and 2013.
In 2011, IDFA spent, $1,515,000 on lobbying, which increased to $1,616,000 in 2012, and $1,730,000 in 2013. In most other years, IDFA’s lobbying spending was typically close to $500,000 annually. [Center for Responsive Politics, opensecrets.org, accessed 12/21/14]
Spent More Than $60,000 Sending Members of Congress and Staff to Warm-Weather Destinations
According to federal travel records maintained by Legistorm, from 2000 to 2014 the IDFA spent $64,216 sending 35 members of Congress or their staff on trips to conferences, with nearly every trip going to a warm-weather destination like Florida or southern California during the winter months. [Legistorm.com, accessed 12/21/14]