Friday, December 08, 2017

Perdue to allow low-fat flavored milk in school again; dairy industry happy but nutritionists worry

Associated Press photo
 Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last week that schools will be allowed to offer low-fat (1%) flavored milk at breakfast and lunch in the 2018-2019 school year. Currently, flavored milks must be fat-free to be offered in school meal and a la carte sales, unless a school applies for a special exemption and can demonstrate that not offering the low-fat flavored milks has led to a reduction in student milk consumption or an increase in school milk waste. The ban on low-fat flavored milks was instituted in 2012, and resulted in "a large drop in milk consumption in schools. Students consumed 288 million fewer half-pints of milk from 2012-2015, even though public school enrollment was growing," Morning Ag Clips reports.

The rule change on milk is part of a larger package rolling back Obama-era school lunch regulations. It also halts a plan to make school lunches lower in sodium, and loosens regulations requiring schools to serve meals rich in whole grains.

Jamie Mara, spokesperson of the Dairy Business Milk Marketing Cooperative, praised the move because he said some kids might not like the taste of fat-free milk and wouldn't drink as much. Even though flavored milks have added sugar, he said the protein and nutrients students will get mean flavored milk is still a healthy option in moderation, Hope Kirwan reports for Wisconsin Public Radio.

But Cassandra Vanderwall, a clinical nutritionist from the University of Wisconsin Health, disagreed. "I don't think flavoring milk or giving a child chocolate-flavored xyz to get them to eat it because it has some nutritional component is a good idea or a good message," she told Kirwan.

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