The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering prohibiting elementary schools from offering chocolate milk to students in an effort to reduce kids’ sugar intake, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The USDA is weighing a ban on flavored milk, including chocolate and strawberry, from elementary and middle school meals, a decision that could be finalized by the 2025-2026 school year, according to the WSJ. Whether the department decides to restrict the milk from elementary schools, the flavored drinks would have to meet new restrictions on the amount of added sugar allowed. (RELATED: Republican AGs Sue Biden Admin Over ‘Gender Identity’ Policy That Could Withhold School Lunch Funds)
“Flavored milk is a challenging issue to figure out exactly the best path forward,” Cindy Long, administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, told the outlet. “We really do want to encourage children to consume milk and we also recognize the need to reduce added-sugar consumption.”
The USDA mandates that school districts serve a minimum of two types of milks, one of which must be skim, plain or 1%. School districts are not allowed to serve whole or 2% milk but can offer flavored milk if it is fat free or 1%.
Flavored milk was one of the main sources of sugar in students’ school meals, increasing the push to remove the beverage from the nation’s school districts, the WSJ reported.
“From a public-health perspective, it makes a lot of sense to try to limit the servings of these flavored milks because they do have quite a lot of added sugar,” Erica Lauren Kenney, a public-health and nutrition professor at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, told the outlet.
Thirty-seven distributors who supply 90% of the milk in schools pledged in April to limit their beverages to 10 grams of added sugars per 8 ounces to align with new USDA standards, according to the WSJ. The milk distributors sell nearly $2 billion of the beverage to school districts each year.
“USDA and the Biden-Harris Administration are all in on setting up children to be healthy and thrive—and school meals are a proven tool for giving kids access to the nutrition they need for a bright future,” a USDA spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Based on the latest nutrition science and extensive feedback from our school meal partners, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is proposing updates to the school nutrition standards in a few key areas to give kids the right balance of nutrients for a healthy, tasty meal.”
Those opposed to the potential ban worry that restricting flavored milk could cause students to limit their dairy intake, the WSJ reported.
“Do we want kids to get the calcium, the protein, the additional nutrients that are part of milk?” Jessica Gould, the director of nutrition services for Littleton Public Schools in Colorado, told the outlet. “Because when we were only providing white milk, we did see a significant amount of students didn’t take milk in general.”
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