Nutrition standards to affect dairy products

by Staff
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DALLAS — Upcoming nutrition standards from a group of government agencies may affect how manufacturers market to children such dairy products as yogurt with added sweeteners and milk fortified with calcium, said Elaine D. Kolish, vice-president and director for a children’s food and beverage advertising initiative within the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Members of the Federal Trade Commission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working on nutrition standards for food marketed to children.

Although the standards will be voluntary, “you can be confident there will be great pressure on the food industry to adopt these standards,” Ms. Kolish said Sept. 14 at the International Dairy Show in Dallas.

The interagency working group issued tentative proposed nutrition standards in December of 2009. For dairy products, the tentative standards say 100% non-fat and low-fat milk and yogurt may be marketed to children. The group defined 100% as no added nutritive or non-nutritive sweeteners and no other functional ingredients, such as calcium, added to the product.

Milk and yogurt products failing to meet the 100% status may qualify for marketing to children in other ways. Per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC), the foods may contain 0.75 cups milk or yogurt, 1-oz natural cheese or 1.5-oz process cheese. The products also should have 1 gram or less of saturated fat, no trans fat, no more than 13 grams of added sugars, and no more than 200 mg of sodium per portion.

Ms. Kolish urged the dairy industry to share its views when the interagency working group asks for comments on the voluntary standards. Conveying how much sodium reduction is feasible would be one example as would be asking if the standards may be implemented incrementally. An argument also may be made that the limit of 1 gram of saturated fat may be too rigorous for many products, she said.

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