A new report released last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration calls for restaurants to provide more lower-calorie, nutrient-rich food and beverage choices on menus – including low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products.

The FDA report specifically calls for restaurants to offer more low-fat and fat-free milk beverages, as milk provides important nutrients, such as vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and potassium, lacking in many Americans' diets.

The report also recommends that these nutrient-rich beverage options be made readily available — especially with children's meals. The report points to the success of introducing healthier beverage menu options at select quick service restaurants (QSR), and acknowledges that the key to success is offering nutrient-rich milk in appealing packaging, such as low-fat white and chocolate milk in contemporary, single-serve, 8-ounce plastic bottles.

"With more families eating meals away from home, the FDA report underscores what I know as a mom and registered dietitian: that healthier menu options are a must for meeting the nutrition needs of on-the-go families," says Ann Marie Krautheim, senior vice president of nutrition affairs, National Dairy Council. "This report and leadership from quick service restaurants will serve as a call-to-action for other foodservice outlets to incorporate and market more low calorie, nutrient-rich food choices that appeal to consumers, such as low-fat and fat-free dairy."

The FDA report recommends that restaurants promote food options that increase consumer demand for the food groups encouraged in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines encourage Americans to increase their intake of low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains — to help effectively manage caloric intake and maintain healthy weight.

Specifically, the FDA report calls for the Milk Matters program at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, as well as the Powerful Bones, Powerful Girls program at the Centers for Disease Control, to be expanded to build skills for selecting foods and beverages away from home. The report suggests that both programs could include a large-scale social marketing campaign to promote the intake of three daily servings of low-fat and nonfat milk and milk products, consistent with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines.

For more information, go to: http://www.nationaldairycouncil.org

National Dairy Council via PRNewswire