USDA proposes strict new nutrition standards for foods sold in school vending machines, cafes and snack bars

By Elaine WATSON

- Last updated on GMT

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USDA proposes new standards for foods sold in schools
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released new proposals restricting calories, saturated fat and sodium in foods sold in school vending machines, cafes and snack bars as part of its commitment to improve child nutrition under The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

The proposed rules, which were released Friday and will be subject to a 60-day public comment period,  stipulate that any food sold in schools must:

(1) Be either a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, a protein food, a whole-grain rich grain product (50% or more whole grains by weight or have whole grains as the first ingredient), or a combination food that contains at least ¼ cup of fruit or vegetable; or (2) Contain 10% of the Daily Value of calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or fiber.

Additionally, the rules propose that total fat must be ≤35% of calories; saturated fat must be <10% of calories; and trans fat must be 0g. Exemptions are provided for reduced fat cheese; nuts and nut butters without other ingredients and seafood with no added fat.

Snacks must contain 200 calories or fewer per portion

Meanwhile, snacks must contain 200 calories or fewer per portion, and ≤200 milligrams of sodium, while entrées must contain ≤480 milligrams per portion and 350 calories or fewer per portion.

For total sugar levels the proposal includes two alternatives: one is ≤35% of calories and the other is ≤35% of weight. Exemptions are provided for fruits and vegetables packed in juice or extra-light syrup and for certain yogurts.

As for beverages, schools may sell water, low fat milk, plain or flavored fat-free milk and milk alternatives, and 100% fruit/vegetable juice. Other options include calorie-free, flavored and/or unflavored carbonated water and other calorie-free beverages. Additionally, the proposal would allow 12oz servings of some other beverages within a specified calorie limit.

60-day comment period

The standards will not go into effect until at least one school year after public comment is considered and an implementing rule is published to ensure that schools and vendors have adequate time to adapt.

CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan said: “Combined with the improvements in school lunches that schools began implementing this school year, at long last, all foods and beverages sold in schools will need to meet healthy nutrition standards.”​ 

The text of the proposed rule is available here​.

Click here​ to read our interview with H.U.M.A.N. Health Vending ceo Sean Kelly.

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1 comment


Posted by Gabriela Cioba,

When it is mentioned "portion", what is the size of this portion?

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