Individual Submission of Comments Re: Docket No. FDA-2009-P-0147Submitted by The Pen on Thu, 04/18/2013 - 14:11
Here is my full commentary being submitted to the FDA regarding the above Docket No...long live Liberty!
1. Would the proposed amendments promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers?
For the IDFA and NMPF to insinuate these proposed amendments would promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers is in itself dishonest and misleading. The petition itself acknowledges that the use of non-nutritive sweeteners in optional characterizing flavoring ingredients in milk is already allowed under the existing regulatory program, with certain additional requirements. It appears that the petition seeks to evade the transparency that a nutrient content claim may provide, if only in part, and that the standard labeling of any non-nutritive sweetener in optional characterizing ingredients would serve to avoid the liabilities that the current nutrient content claim requirement provides. The fact that milk may currently contain a characterizing flavor that is sweetened with a non-nutritive sweetener if the food’s label bears a nutrient content claim and that non-nutritive sweetener is used to add sweetness to the product so that it is not inferior in its sweetness property compared to its standardized counterpart is telling of the underlying purpose to this petition in part. By removing the requirement for a nutrient content claim (e.g. “reduced calorie”) it will become trivial and unnecessary for consumers to expend efforts in order to decipher if their product contains a nutritive or non-nutritive sweetener.
Consumers may not be willing to research the non-nutritive sweetening ingredient listed on the product label when not juxtaposed with a nutrient content claim, for there would be no immediate or leading statement calling attention to alterations in the products consumers purchase. The interest in this petition is clear in that it seeks to amend and further eradicate the transparencies in place regarding the products listed therein. This not only decreases liability for the IDFA and NMPF, but also renders any and all contracts made between them and the manufacturer(s) of such non-nutritive sweeteners, whether J.W. Childs Equity Partners II L.P., Ajinomoto, or Merisant and the Holland Sweetener Company conveniently and methodically prosperous in the coordination and business of amending standards of identity to our foods so that non-nutritive sweetener manufacturers can realize a multitudinous profit and effect by and in products prior untapped on the market. It appears that primary interests lie in exploiting children’s dietary habits under the guise of health reformation in order to desensitize opposition to the artificiality and health risks of non-nutritive sweeteners and chemical additives.
The IDFA and NMPF are arguing that nutrient content claims such as “reduced calorie” are not attractive to children, maintaining that consumers could more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels did not include such claims. If the focus is on the well-being and health of children it should be noted that caloric intake is not the culprit in weight issues/obesity issues plaguing this nation, rather the ingredients behind the calories. It does little good to deceive children and parents by removing nutrient content claims and simply listing the non-nutritive sweetener on the label statement. How educated is the common person on the history and makeup of the ingredients in their foods? Shouldn’t any and all interests lie in education reformation
regarding ingredients, additives and chemicals, their adverse affects and purposes of inclusion in our foods versus the systematic and lobbied results of removing transparency and limiting opportunities for education and insight for the products we consume? If this petition really seeks to enhance the well-being and health of our children and reduce the “confusion” and “unattractiveness” of nutrient content claims, then why is there such a lack of education in our schools regarding the products and ingredients we consume? Healthful eating habits begin at home. Parents own the responsibility foremost in educating their children on healthful eating habits and in setting examples that promote nutritional efficiency and longevity. The fact that this petition seeks to blanket the issue of health and weight-gain/obesity in our children by deciding for them that the artificiality of ingredients, enormously and rightfully challenged for decades as to their adverse effects on health is somehow efficacious and safer than the standards in place is surely inappropriate and irresponsible.
The interest of the petition is glaringly about a singular issue: profitability. The fact that the IDFA and NMPF complain of an overall decline in milk consumption in schools and that nutrient content claims such as “reduced calorie” are not attractive to children, ultimately leading to this decline in milk consumption is telling of the motives aimed at increasing profitability at the expense of available information to consumers. How exactly can consumers more easily identify overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not contain nutrient content claims? How exactly can the IDFA and NMPF claim that consumers generally do not recognize milk, including flavored milk as necessarily containing sugar if they themselves do not already understand the efficacy of current standards of identity suppressing content information? Are we as consumers to believe that since we do not realize flavored milk might contain added sugar, that sweetening the product with non-nutritive artificial sweeteners while listing them as simply “milk” on the label, will make it any easier for us to identify its overall nutritional value?
Title 21, Chapter I, Subchapter B, Part 130, Subpart (d) Other ingredients. (1), Section 130.10 of the Code of Federal Regulations: Ingredients used in the product shall be those ingredients provided for by the standard as defined in parts 131 through 169 of this chapter and in paragraph (b) of this section, except that safe and suitable ingredients may be used to improve texture, add flavor, prevent syneresis, extend shelf life, improve appearance, or add sweetness so that the product is not inferior in performance characteristics to the standardized food defined in parts 131 through 169 of this chapter. It appears the petition submitted by the IDFA and NMPF does not address how the addition of non-nutritive sweeteners absent of nutrient content claims actually proves superiority or equality in performance characteristics to the standardized food defined in parts 131 through 169 of the chapter referenced above. Who decides that the addition of non-nutritive sweeteners without a nutrient content claim is not inferior in performance characteristics to the standardized food defined in parts 131 through 169 when the inferiority of such substances like Aspartame have been historically argued, scrutinized and concluded by many to be inferior in performance characteristics due to adverse affects directly related to consumption, or at very least complicit in the inflammation of many health conditions?
It could be argued that the use of Aspartame or Sucralose or any other non-nutritive sweetener is inferior by its very adding of sweetness due to the fact that it is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). And it would seem logical that the effects on the sweetness of these petitioned products would be rendered inferior for the simple reason that said petition seeks to incorporate artificial sweeteners, which renders the products being petitioned for amendment of identity inconclusive as to any advantage. The inferiority of the performance characteristics compared to the standardized foods could be established, if by no other means than the alteration in taste, which may or may not be decided as inferior by each individual consumer. How can it be decided, and by what authority that taste is collective and that consumers as a “collective group” are not privy to the decision process that finds an artificial ingredient equal or superior to the standardized ingredients in place? Furthermore, this petition was submitted by legal fiction entities acting as citizens under legal definition and these “citizens” do not necessarily and quite arguably cannot speak for consumers unassociated or unaffiliated with them in jointly submitting the petition. The submission of this joint petition can in no way be proven to hold consumers interests as primary and considered when the petition itself has not been submitted by consumers individually.
According to Webster’s New World Law Dictionary, 2010 a citizen is for the purpose of federal diversity of citizenship lawsuits, a corporation that is incorporated or has its principal place of business in a state, or an alien granted permanent residence in the United States and residing in a state, is a citizen of that state. Therefore, the citizen petition filed jointly by IDFA and NMPF cannot be construed as representative or in the interest of consumers, as once again this petition holds that consumers are collective and that their collective interests are known by the IDFA and NMPF, which in reality they cannot be known without documented surveys or censuses received from those individual consumers. How can the IDFA and NMPF petition the FDA for the use of non-nutritive sweeteners without nutrient content claims and claim it for the better interests of consumers who most likely are unaware of current standardized foods in the first place? What polls or studies have been performed by the IDFA and NMPF in order that they are privy to the interests of consumers as to whether they prefer artificial ingredients over natural ingredients, non-nutritive sweeteners over nutritive sweeteners, nutrient content claims over the absence of nutrient content claims?
Non-nutritive sweeteners are not present in foods due to consumer advocacy and request. Moreover, how the introduction of non-nutritive sweeteners such as Aspartame and the corporate petitioning and advocacy for those sweeteners to be included or to amend current identities of foods can be considered in the consumer’s better interest is highly contradictory when the petition submitted to the FDA seeks to further hide the fact that artificial ingredients are included at all. Does the typical consumer recognize that Aspartame and Sucralose or any other non-nutritive sweeteners are in fact non-nutritive sweeteners/artificial sweeteners simply by their printed name on the label? Does the typical consumer understand Title 21, Chapter I, Subchapter B, Part 131 enough as to safeguard their own health, as is the case with Phenylketonurics, or will there be mandatory labeling of these petitioned milk products to indicate that they now contain Phenylalanine for those who are incapable physiologically of producing the enzyme to regulate the amino acid.
Does the typical consumer know that the Code of Federal Regulations is the regulating/governing body/documentary for products they consume including milk, in order to identify standardized food ingredients, possibly amended to include ingredients that are now all the more undisclosed and hidden away in hundreds of pages of text? I pose these questions in response to the joint petition by the IDFA and NMPF and request they respond as a consumer and American Citizen.
2. Will the inclusion of the non-nutritive sweeteners in the ingredient statement provide consumers with sufficient information to ensure that consumers are not misled regarding the characteristics of the milk they are purchasing?
No. Are the labels to include disclosure that these 17 milk products contain Phenylalanine in order for those who suffer from Phenylketonuria to avoid what they once considered a part of their daily diets? Who has the authority to marginalize a group of consumers who are afflicted with a condition that requires them to avoid the ingestion of Phenylalanine due to their inability to produce the enzyme to neutralize it? Who has the authority to render these products non-consumable to those who may have prior consumed them on a daily basis or frequently? Do the IDFA and NMPF actually believe that including Aspartame or Sucralose or other non-nutritive sweeteners on the statement label alone, with no other points of reference or content claims will provide consumers with sufficient information to ensure they are not misled, possibly to the point of risks to their health? The more information available to consumers the better, right? If the petition jointly submitted by the IDFA and NMPF actually sought to inform consumers and alleviate their confusion as to the products they are consuming, wouldn’t it seem logical that they would provide a petition for reformation on the existing standards and regulations so to make them easier to locate and possibly even provide them to consumers pro-actively?
Wouldn’t they seek to make them more comprehensible and work jointly to educate consumers , not coerce them into consuming what they may hold, even if by minority as an immoral and distrusted artificial ingredient? How can this question be posed when the very petition submitted seeks to remove information and suppress opposition by such removal? Why should individual consumers trust a petition that may inevitably make them indifferent to and disinterested in researching what they believe is “safe”? After all, a majority of consumers may simply believe that the IDFA and NMPF are really putting their concerns and interests and health first even in the face of induced profit through the withholding of vital information.
As a consumer I can attest that the overwhelming majority of my family does not read statement labels and if they do at some point find themselves reading the ingredients, the factor of confusion surfaces in the unfamiliarity of those ingredients. What studies have been conducted by the IDFA and NMPF in that they can claim to know consumers who read labels understand them, research them or even bother to question them as natural vs. artificial, genetically engineered or modified vs. organic and free of GMO’s in order to solicit responses or comments from them? Consumers are misled and disadvantaged by default with the revocation of information that is pertinent to their ability to make a sound and educated decision or choice as to what they put in their bodies.
Either the IDFA and NMPF are ignorant in their understanding of this, negligent in their petitioning to increase the frustration of that choice or deceptive in their willingness to petition for the amendment to standards of identity that further hide the very identity consumers rely on for their dietary choices.
4. Would amending the Additional Dairy Standards as requested promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers? If the labels of these products do not bear nutrient content claims, would the inclusion of non-nutritive sweeteners in the ingredient statements provide consumers with sufficient information to distinguish between the two types of products (i.e., sweetened with nutritive versus non-nutritive sweeteners) so that consumers are not misled?
Please refer to my response to Questions 1 & 2.
6. If the standard of identity for milk and the Additional Dairy Standards are amended in the manner requested by the petition, what will be the effect on search costs for consumers who would like to determine whether a product contains a nutritive or non-nutritive sweetener?
The effect on search costs, defined as costs including time and energy it would take an average consumer to read a label and determine whether the product contains a nutritive sweetener or artificial sweetener, would be speculative at best. I would assume that the IDFA and NMPF are hoping the effect on search costs will frustrate the need and desire for consumers to research beyond the statement label exactly what it is they are consuming. There would be absolutely no sensible reason they would believe the effect on search costs would favor an uprising of suspicion once consumers took notice of nutrient content claims missing from the products they are purchasing and that the reason for this absence of said claims was due to a carefully crafted and methodical petition submitted by legal “citizens” in order to increase profits despite any number of concerns that went unheard prior to the deadlines set by the FDA for comments and responses. The petition by its own wording clearly manifests motivations that are without regard for individual consumers.
The fact that Aspartame alone is one of the most contested and controversial chemical additives in history may give many consumers, as it does me a legitimate reason to be concerned about the efficacy, value and safety of non-nutritive sweeteners/artificial sweeteners. The professional opposition to Aspartame as an artificial chemical additive has been known and documented for decades and the IDFA and NMPF are surely educated on the topic in order that they can petition to remove nutrient content claims for non-nutritive sweeteners such as Aspartame? The less leading information or claims present on the products consumers purchase, the less likely they will investigate the history, adverse effects and opposition to that ingredient. The statement label contains technical terminology, rather chemical terminology presumptively not understood by most consumers and it is this very unfamiliarity in labeling that will most likely render the ingredients frustrating and timely in pursuing their chemical makeup, history and purpose.
Therefore, statement labels do little to exemplify the ingredients therein or alert consumers to the importance of educating themselves on what it is they are consuming, because rest assured the IDFA and NMPF will not disclose information that may cut net profits or reduce the consumption of products they’ve petitioned to amend and manipulate without consensus from individual consumers. If the IDFA and NMPF really cared about the individual consumer and their dietary habits, wouldn’t it seem logical that they would alleviate search costs for them, rather than creating frustration of purpose and motivation in ultimately understanding the effects that may come with petitions that restrict information and amend the identity of foods to include artificial ingredients? Where in this joint petition is it provided that the consumer is a benefiter? Where in this joint petition is it provided that the consumer is an interested party to the filing of it on their behalf, other than the claim of the petition being in their better interest? Where in this joint petition is it provided that the consumer is capable of raising concerns and posing questions if they find fault or dispute with the decision rendered by the FDA, regardless of the period given for comments and questions prior? Is there recourse for consumers in order to initiate and submit a collective petition that seeks to repeal or reverse a decision reached by the FDA in favor of the joint petition filed by the IDFA and NMPF?
Please take these concerns, questions and comments to heart as they are being provided on behalf of those who may not have any knowledge of this jointly submitted petition by the IDFA and NMPF or that numerous milk products are being petitioned to further obscure the fact that non-nutritive sweeteners are present or a concern. Thank you for your time and the opportunity to present my comments and questions.
Justin Duane, of the Klinkebiel family