I invited your comments and Joe O'Donnell took me up on my offer. Here's what Joe had to say:
"I am taking your invitation to respond to some points in your excellent column. Sugar, high fructose corn syrup and the like are under fire as you note. A great opportunity lies with chocolate and other flavored milks replacing soft drinks in schools. The CDRF looked at this about 10 years ago. Then we found that parents did not want sugar added; neither did they want any artificial sweetener added...
"So, we found the best enzyme to split the lactose. The resulting glucose and galactose are not as sweet as sucrose or fructose, but if you use high solids milk, e.g. 11%, you can gain the desired sweetness through hydrolysis of the lactose.
"Downside is that you need to pasteurize twice - the second time to kill the enzyme. However, I think that today we can use immobilized enzymes and avoid the second heat treatment. Bottom line is that you can formulate to "no added sugar", but it will cost more - the usual conundrum.
"As an aside, think what such a product would do for lactose utilization. Think ice cream and other dairy desserts. Also, you get around any lactose intolerance issues."
This man is a genius! He not only agrees with me, he fortifies my ideas and contentions.
Seriously, I appreciate Joe's input and, hopefully, you also appreciate his thinking. Joe is a scientist who thinks like a marketer. And heaven help us, the dairy foods business needs more marketers.
Several times, several years ago, the purveyors of all wisdom, told us what we couldn't do on milk carton labels.
The emails I received all agreed: Lots of people still think whole milk is full of fat. Unfortunately, almost everyone caved in to the government's edicts. "But the government said,...was a frequent refrain."
Why worry about what the government said several years ago. Why can't we sit down with the regulators and explore some options? Find some ways to clarify the fat content on the label in some fashion bolder than the fine print in the ingredient declaration.
Sans any labeling options, what about an aggressive public relations campaign to set the record straight? I think it is worth the fight.
It's common knowledge (Or is it just an urban legend?), that many former whole milk drinkers quit drinking milk after they tried products labeled lowfat and found them less than satisfying.
With total sales of milk as a beverage in a steady decline for several decades, it seems to me like the dairy business ought to be putting forth more of a marketing effort.
No options should be left unturned. Something can be done about "added sugar" and we can accurately portray the true fat content of whole milk.