In the new school meal guidelines, revealed by US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack on 25 January, the requirement to serve meat or a meat alternate to children at breakfast does not appear, despite featuring in the proposed rules published by the US Department for Agriculture (USDA) about a year ago.
The American Meat Institute (AMI) regretted the change of approach, saying there was evidence that protein at breakfast was beneficial to children and teenagers.
“At a time when childhood obesity is such a major issue, we are concerned about de-emphasising meat at breakfast. In 2011, a key University of Missouri study concluded that protein at breakfast actually enhanced appetite and weight control in teens. A study in the International Journal of Obesity reached similar conclusions. Lean meat and poultry items as part of breakfast are enjoyed by children and teens and will help satisfy longer,” said AMI director of scientific affairs Betsy Booren.
A spokesperson for the USDA told GlobalMeatNews that meat had never been a requirement in school breakfasts. “The USDA consulted its experts and made a proposal to update nutrition standards. In this proposal there was a requirement to give meat or a meat alternate daily for breakfast. We then ran a public consultation and received 130,000 comments. Concerns were raised as to the cost the requirement would add for school districts.
“The cost of the whole reform was originally $6.8bn, and it has now dropped by almost half of that, mainly because the meat requirement was cancelled,” the spokesperson added.