Wheat Foods Council Statement on USDA School Meal Nutrition Standards
The Wheat Foods Council is pleased with the treatment of grains in the new school meal nutrition standards released January 25, 2012 by First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
The standards require all grains served in schools must be “whole grain rich” within two years after implementation. USDA includes several methods for determining whether a food is “whole grain rich.” The Wheat Foods Council expressed concerns about the definition of “whole grain” and “whole grain-rich” in comments filed with other Grain Chain organizations when the proposed standards were published last year. We continue to be concerned that the guidance offered in the final standards is complex and may pose difficulties for school foodservice personnel to implement. However, we do support the overall intent of increasing consumption of whole grains. Since school may be the only opportunity for many children to consume whole grains, this makes it more probable they will reach the goal of having half their daily grain servings whole grains.
At the same time, we urge those mandating these regulations to not forget the importance of enriched grains for young women of child-bearing age who may still be in high school. Enriched grains provide twice as much folic acid as whole grains and are credited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with reducing neural tube birth defects by 36 percent in the past 14 years. Of the four million women who give birth in the United States each year, some 3,000 babies are born with neural tube defects, translating to approximately eight babies born in the United States every day with spina bifida or another neural tube defect.ShareThis