Food definitions: do words matter?

It seems that the dairy industry is pushing to expand the definition of “milk” to include dairy drinks that include artificial sweeteners:

The change would allow dairy producers to add artificial sweeteners to flavored milk without having to clearly say so on the front. Flavored Milk that is currently sweetened with artificial sweeteners would no longer be called a dairy drink, but milk.

The proposed change before the FDA now would make it harder to know just what is in one’s food. This change alone would alter what is called the “standard of identity” for milk and 17 other dairy products according to the report.

Things to ponder on this proposed change:

  • Do words and definitions matter? What would prevent this change from expanding beyond the “17 dairy products” the industry is targeting?
  • Could artificially sweetened milk be used as an ingredient in other food products without disclosing the presence of artificial sweeteners in that product?
  • Will this change, if approved, encourage the entire food industry to, en masse, alter other definitions in ways that suit their marketing goals?
  • On a basic level, what is food? Why do we differentiate between junk food and real food? Have we already corrupted our food?
  • According to the Constitution, should these food questions even be considered at the Federal level?

Image credit: Kyle May

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