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USDA Revises School Meal Guidelines

Thursday, January 26, 2012

(American Meat Institute)

For the first time in 15 years, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued new school meal guidelines. The new guidelines, which apply to lunches subsidized by the federal government, were crafted to comply with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They place new restrictions on the number of calories (according to age group), milligrams of sodium and percentages of calories from saturated fat children’s meals may contain.

One significant change in the rules is that meat will no longer be required as part of school breakfast. The USDA says the change was made to cut costs, despite evidence that protein at breakfast is beneficial to children and teens.

“At a time when childhood obesity is such a major issue, we are concerned about deemphasizing meat at breakfast. In 2011, a key University of Missouri study concluded that protein at breakfast actually enhanced appetite and weight control in teens,” said AMI Foundation Director of Scientific Affairs Betsy Booren, Ph.D.  “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.”

The new rules go into effect on July 1, 2012.

For a sample of the USDA's "before" and "after" five-day menu, go to: www.usda.gov/documents/cnr_chart.pdf.


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