Chocolate milk is serious business in school lunchrooms – and at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). The FDA is calling for public comments about a requested change to milk labeling laws as a potential way to reduce childhood obesity. Currently, flavored milk, such as chocolate milk, that contains artificial sweeteners must be labeled as “no sugar added” chocolate milk or “reduced calorie” chocolate milk. The dairy industry has petitioned the FDA to allow labels for flavored milk containing artificial sweeteners to forego those descriptions and simply say, for example, “chocolate milk.” The industry argues that the terms “no sugar added” and “reduced calorie” are not attractive to children; therefore, the change would encourage kids to choose lower-calorie flavored milks, thereby reducing childhood obesity. The change would also apply to other dairy products, including cream, half-and-half, and yogurt. The FDA’s request for comments deadline is May 21.
Of course, chocolate milk is only one of many products subject to FDA’s labeling authority. Drugs, medical devices, dietary supplements, cosmetics, as well as foods, must all bear labels that comply with FDA regulations. The regulations govern everything from what health claims a dietary supplement can make to how a drug manufacturer must be identified on a label. Companies that market or plan to market any of these items should know what information, warnings, health claims, and other details they can – or must – include on their product packaging.