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NMPF Thanks USDA for Yogurt Decision in Final WIC Regulations

March 7, 2014

NMPF thanked the Agriculture Department last week for allowing states to substitute some yogurt for milk in the federal government’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program.

The dairy industry had pushed for the change for those who are lactose intolerant or who might not drink milk for other reasons. Only low-fat and nonfat yogurt will be allowed except for very young children.

“Like milk, yogurt is an excellent source of protein, calcium and other nutrients,” said NMPF Vice President for Nutrition Beth Briczinski. “And it’s preferred by some over milk. That’s why the Institute of Medicine, as well as the dairy industry, had recommended allowing yogurt as a substitute for milk in the WIC food packages several years ago.”

USDA initially rejected that recommendation, citing concerns over cost. However, in final regulations to be issued formally next week, USDA is reversing that decision. States will now be allowed to authorize WIC recipients to purchase up to a quart of yogurt monthly as a substitute for one quart of milk.

“This is a common-sense decision that gives states more flexibility to meet the needs of WIC participants,” Briczinski said. “Yogurt is convenient, popular and comparable to milk nutritionally. WIC participants should have the option to purchase yogurt instead of milk, especially if they have difficulty digesting milk.”

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children is designed to improve the health of low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young children. Milk and other dairy products figure prominently in the WIC food packages and account for nearly a third of all purchases under the program.