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FDA postpones rules for calorie labels on menus

09 May 2017

In a move to roll back former first lady Michelle Obama's healthy lunch initiative, the Trump administration unveiled a rule on Monday to eliminate some of the nutritional standards now set in place.

The USDA announced Monday new guidelines for school meal programs.

Perdue's announcement was heralded by Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, as well as by the School Nutrition Association, which has long-referred to the regulations as "overly prescriptive", The Hill reported.

Schools won't have to cut the sale in children's meals and won't need to provide whole grains.

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"If kids aren't eating the food, and it's ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition, thus undermining the intent of the program", Perdue said during a speech at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg, Va.

Patricia Montague, CEO of the School Nutrition Association, a national nonprofit with more than 57,000 members that provides meals to students across the nation, praised Perdue's leadership. "This rollback may allow schools the option to improve flavor profiles with less whole grain foods and the use of spices, including salt", he said. It gave the USDA the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods sold in schools, including vending machines, "a la carte" lunch lines, and school stores.

Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, said some schools in the South have had problems with grits, because "the whole grain variety has little black flakes in it" and kids won't eat it.

In announcing these changes, Secretary Perdue indicated via a statement that the decision came following feedback from schools that were having trouble meeting the nutrition standards.

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Under the new rule, new sodium standards are to be relaxed from previous ones from 935 mg to 1,230 mg in elementary school lunches, 1,035 mg to 1,360 mg in middle school lunches, and from 1,080 mg to 1,420 mg in high school lunches. It aimed to help transform the school food environment in order to promote better nutrition built upon recommendations from the Institute of Medicine.

Schools could also serve 1 percent milk instead of the nonfat now required.

Chocolate milk is coming back on the school lunch menu.

They have also lobbied for more flexibility in rules that require kids to eat fruits and vegetables, saying those often get thrown away.

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Michelle Obama spearheaded reforms to the school lunch program to improve youth nutrition and reduce childhood obesity, but many schools found the restrictions hard to follow. Fowler said her district is a Provision 2 school, which means breakfast and lunch are offered to students at no charge. Margo Woota of the Center for Science in the Public Interest stated that 90 percent of American kids consume too much sodium everyday, and schools have been moving in the right direction following the mandate. "Rather than relaxing standards, we should continue to build on the progress that has been achieved and support schools to continue to make healthy changes".

FDA postpones rules for calorie labels on menus