The public comment period for new labeling rules on flavored milk an 17 other dairy products will end May 21 at 11:59 p.m. eastern time, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposal posted on the Federal Register Feb. 20. If implemented, the rules would change the “standard of identity” for milk to allow certain artificial sweeteners considered “safe and suitable” to be included in the product without additional information on the label such as “reduced calorie.” Any sweetener would still be required to be listed among the ingredients. The proposed rule change was suggested in a joint petition from the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) submitted to the FDA back on March 16, 2009. Currently, milk products containing artificial sweeteners — most commonly chocolate milk — are required to include a claim regarding the nutrient content that notes a calorie reduction caused by the lack of nutrients. Products sweetened with artificial flavorings such as aspartame or sucralose contain fewer calories than equivalent products sweetened with nutritive flavorings such as sugar. As depicted in the FDA graphic reprinted here, the rules would make it so that the labels of artificially sweetened milk products would look the same as their counterparts made without those sweeteners. The dairy groups say that the additional label information is unappealing to children, who prefer flavored milk over conventional milk. They also say that updating the standard of identity for milk would “promote honesty” and establish consistency across dairy labels. Other products that would be affected by the rule change include nonfat dry milk, eggnog, half-and-half and sour cream.