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NMPF Urges USDA to Enhance Dairy Consumption Opportunities in Schools

November 7, 2013

In comments submitted last week to the USDA, NMPF urged the agency to make adjustments in a proposed rule affecting how dairy products are made available to school students beyond the lunch line. The NMPF comments single out as a point of concern the “favorable treatment afforded to competing beverages – which, in contrast to milk and juice, do not supply significant amounts of nutrients essential to students’ diets,” and points out that the proposed regulation confers an unfair and inappropriate advantage to these products.

The comments are in response to USDA’s interim final rule establishing nutrition standards for foods sold outside of school meal programs. Because dairy products in those settings are competing against other foods and beverages, NMPF urged USDA to limit the time and place that non-dairy, non-juice lower-calorie and calorie-free beverages are available.

In addition, NMPF also asked USDA to include low-fat flavored milk as an allowable beverage, extend the saturated fat exemption for reduced-fat cheese to combination foods, and clarify the final rule’s saturated fat standard.

Those changes – particularly allowing the reintroduction of low-fat flavored milk, which was removed from federal school nutrition regulations three years ago – will “further enhance dairy consumption in order to close the gap between current dietary recommendations, and consumption of milk and dairy products.” NMPF pointed out that actual average consumption of milk is “barely barely half the USDA’s recommended amount and, after early childhood, all age groups continue to fall further short of recommended amounts.”