Flavored milk ban could reduce overall milk consumption

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The International Dairy Foods Association backs the government’s drive to highlight the importance of dairy products in school meals, but has expressed concern about banning flavored milk.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture came out with updated standards for school meals.

The government requires schools to offer eight ounces of fluid milk with each school lunch and breakfast. But it has banned all milk products that are not low-fat or fat-free plain milk and fat-free flavored milks.

“We applaud the strong support of dairy as a vital component of a healthy diet and appreciate the priority attention USDA has given to improving the foods and beverages served in our nation’s schools,” says Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. “However, we are disappointed that USDA has placed limits on milk varieties ahead of constraints on competing beverages widely available today.”

Milk will continue to face tough competition from other “competing beverages” sold at schools until the USDA issue rules governing the process.

“Eliminating low-fat flavored milks, which kids like, and still allowing a wide variety a la carte beverages like juice beverages, sports drinks and soda at schools will reduce milk consumption,” said Tipton.

New research has shown that much of the decline in milk consumption among children and teens is attributed to the wide availability of other beverages at schools, says the IDFA.

“When beverages other than milk, 100-percent juice and water are offered, total milk consumption at school drops 9 percent to 28 percent,” the IDFA says.

Earlier in the year the IDFA sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighting this continuing decline in milk consumption. It warned that schools might use USDA’s final school meal rule as their basis for all school milk purchases.

The letter said:

“Our industry would prefer an attainable restriction on added sugars or a calorie limit rather than the exclusion of low-fat flavored milk as proposed in the school meal rule.”

The concern has also been shared by members of the House Education and Workforce Committee. Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), also wrote to the secretary asking for consistent standards for milk and all beverages sold in schools.

“Given the nutritional value of milk, including low-fat flavored milk, we are deeply concerned that USDA would take action that could drastically reduce milk consumption in schools in favor of less healthy alternatives,” they said.

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Earth  |  January, 30, 2012 at 07:00 PM

The presence of dairy products in school lunches is a reason that many children do so poorly in school. It’s also a racial issue considering that 70% of African American children are lactose intolerant. Please tell me how these children are expected to excel in their studies while their stomachs are in extreme pain from the dairy products in the lunches. Even for children that can digest milk, school lunch is problematic. Dairy products also contribute to anemia in menstruating students because it leeches iron from the body. Most people don’t know that you have to eat fresh fruit before cooked food or it will go rancid in the stomach because the other food (bread, meat, etc) take much longer to digest than fruit. I have met many people that falsely believe they are allergic to fruit. No one is allergic to fruit, but it will cause pain if it’s forced to sit in your stomach while waiting for junk food to digest.

Dr Doug    
Idaho  |  January, 30, 2012 at 09:16 PM

Can you provide peer reviewed research to support your "facts"? If not please do not try to"educate" the general public about topics that you are not qualified to do so.

Joe Itle    
Martinsburg, Pa.  |  January, 30, 2012 at 11:43 PM

The key word is flavor. By removing the fat or lowering the fat, the flavor is changed. No fat, no flavor, no drink.

Kansas  |  January, 31, 2012 at 09:29 AM

Mr. Mercer One of my best friends is very allergic to fruit that hasn't been cooked and it has nothing to do with it being rancid. It's because her body cannot handle breaking down the bonds - once it's cooked she is fine. People actually are allergic to fresh fruit. My cousin is also allergic to apples and can't eat applesauce, apple pie etc.

Jan Rottinghaus    
Kansas  |  January, 31, 2012 at 02:19 PM

I would also like to see the facts where "Mercer" got their info from. I have stayed very informed on the benefits of milk in the diet and have never heard such rediculous claims. I am very concerned if they do eliminate flavored milk in schools. I see way too much consumption of sugar loaded juices and gatorades because they claim to be "healthy". There has been so much literature on the goodness of milk. I think they have already put so many constrictions on the milk by making it low fat and skim that it almost has to be flavored to taste good. - And when I buy for my family--we drink WHOLE milk and NONE of us are over weight. You have to live a healthy life style to be healthy!

Augusta, GA  |  February, 02, 2012 at 10:03 AM

I am a food service director and did away with 2% and whole milk in 2002 and children still drank the milk. I have been in three different systems since then only serving 1% and fat free and it doesn't really affect the consumption. Flavored vs. unflavored is when consumption is decreased.

Florida  |  February, 02, 2012 at 11:08 AM

I agree with LJM. I'm also a FS Director in Florida. We moved to all fat-free milks, sering only chocolate and unflavored white milk this school year and experienced an INCREASE in consumption. Our bid was awarded to a new milk company that uses only the highest quality flavoring, has reduced fat content to zero and has decreased sugars to less than 20%. Kids are happy, parents are happy, I'm happy. No brainer.

Laurie Maeyaert    
Tracy Area Public Schools  |  February, 02, 2012 at 04:33 PM

We switched to lowfat and fat free white milk and fat free only chocolate milk two years ago and I have had very little negative feedback. Our students LOVE milk especially the fat free chocolate milk. I would never try and take it away from them, the benefits of them drinking milk far surpass the few extra calories.

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