“USDA has finalized its rule on school meal standards to include added sugar reductions that were proposed last year, but less severe cuts on sodium. The final rule includes cuts to added sugars that will start in fall 2025 and be fully implemented in 2027. As initially listed in the proposed standards, added sugars will be limited to 10% of each week’s school meals menu as recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

While schools can continue to offer flavored and unflavored milk, the new standards include a limit on added sugars in flavored milk served at breakfast and lunch by fall 2025. Thirty-seven school milk processors, which make up over 90% of the school milk nationwide, have already committed to providing options that meet the limit on added sugar.

The Sugar Association supported the reduction of added sugars but cautioned against imposing added sugar limits on individual products like flavored milk that provide nutrients. Cutting out added sugar could also lead to an increase in artificial sweeteners, which are not disclosed in school meals, the group wrote in a statement. “School meals standards should not be another catalyst for even greater substitution of low- and no-calorie sweeteners in foods for children, for whom intake is not encouraged,” said Courtney Gaine, Sugar Association president and CEO.”

Read the full article here (subscription required): https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/21001-new-school-meal-standards-cut-added-sugars-sodium

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