I.B.A. sees progress toward WIC flexibility

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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WASHINGTON – In a step that could give bakers greater flexibility to bake whole wheat bread permitted for inclusion under a major food assistance program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has sent guidance giving states greater latitude in establishing qualifying specifications.

According to the Independent Bakers Association, the Department has backed off from a December 2007 rule that restricts bakers to loaves that are either 1 lb or 2 lbs for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.

The I.B.A. met with the Department in January and is working to pursue greater WIC flexibility with a coalition of associations ranging from juice to fisheries and including the American Bakers Association and the Grocery Manufacturers of America. The I.B.A. said states have allowed flexibility in the packaging sizes of certain items in the past, including canned beans for which 14.5-oz cans qualify so long as the maximum 16-oz size also qualifies.

The group said an October meeting has been set with Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer to discuss this issue further. Whole grain bread was first added to the list of WIC qualifying items in December 2007.

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