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Skimming fat, not nutrients

FDA has issued new rules on milk labeling designed to eliminate consumer confusion about the fat content of milk and milk products. Until now, milk was not held to the same nutrition labeling standards as other products on the use of terms like "low fat." As a result, many consumers believed skim milk contained fewer nutrients than other types, and that 2% milk was low fat.

Wrong on both counts. The new milk labeling regulations bring these products in line with others. Two percent milk is now "reduced fat," and 1% milk qualifies as "low fat." Skim milk can call itself "fat free." "Besides reinforcing the product's primary benefit, the fat-free terminology is more widely used than nonfat on grocery items so it's more recognizable and meaningful to consumers," says Jerry Kozak, senior vice president of the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF). The regulations apply to milk, cottage cheese and other milk products, though not yogurt. The new regulations were the result of a petition by an unlikely partnership of the MIF and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy group. CSPI has an ongoing campaign to increase consumption of low fat and fat free milk. The new regulations, said CSPI legal director Bruce Silverglade, will make it easier for consumers to identify these products.

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