Chocolate milk could be banned in some school cafeterias under proposed USDA guidelines

Your kids’ favorite drink may not be at the cafeteria next school year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is weighing whether it should limit or outright ban chocolate and other flavored milks in cafeterias at elementary and middle schools.

The concern about chocolate and flavored milks is the added sugar content. One cup of chocolate milk can contain about 15 grams of added sugar — about as much as a Coke.

“For some students, they get the majority of their meals at school,” said Dr. Gabrina Dixon a pediatrician with Children’s National Hospital. “They get breakfast and lunch and snacks at school. They’re trying to make sure that the meals are as healthy as possible. That would be really helpful for our children and obesity that we are seeing in them.”

The USDA is considering two options for flavored milk as laid out in the department’s  “Proposed Updates to the School Nutrition Standards.”

One option would limit flavored milk to students in high schools only. Elementary and middle school children would be limited to fat-free or low-fat unflavored milk.

The alternative would be to allow flavored milks to remain. Both options include a proposed added sugars limit for flavored milk. The public was able to comment on the guidelines for several months. The comment deadline ended last Wednesday.

A group of dairies that supply around 90% of U.S. schools agreed last month to limit added sugars to no more than 10 grams in flavored milk, which is aligned with the USDA standard.

“School meals are incredibly important to the health and welfare of our children, and milk is a central building block in school nutrition programs,” said Michael Dykes, CEO and president of International Dairy Foods Association in a release. “Milk is the leading source of calcium, vitamin D, and potassium for American children ages two to 18, and that is why milk processors continue to step up by providing wholesome, healthy, and nutritious white milk and flavored milk options with 13 essential nutrients that students will consume.”

Whichever option is chosen will be implemented in 2025.

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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