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“In nutrition guidelines published in the Federal Register April 25, the US Department of Agriculture for the first time capped added sugar in school meals, but pulled back on proposed restrictions for sodium, milk and refined grains that school nutrition professionals, food companies and some trade groups complained were unrealistic.

USDA focused sugar reduction efforts on breakfast after it found added sugar accounted for about 17% of calories in school breakfast and 92% of schools prepared breakfast with 10% or more of calories from added sugar. This is far more than the 69% of schools that prepare lunches with 10% or more of calories from added sugar. It also found flavored milk is the leading source of added sugar in school meals, contributing almost half of the added sugars in lunches and 30% in breakfasts.

The Sugar Association argues limits on added sugar in individual products, like cereal and flavored dairy is “arbitrary” and inconsistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It also cautions caps on sugar in school meals could be a “catalyst for even greater substitution of low- and no-calorie sweeteners in foods for children, for whom intake is not encouraged.” USDA countered that it looks to FDA for “their expertise in this area, and the final rule aligns with current FDA regulations.”

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