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News

This month, Mayfield Dairy Farms released exciting news about changes to the nutrient profile of one of its popular beverages, TruMoo Chocolate Milk. Beginning in January 2013, the beverage, which is currently offered to Newton County School System (NCSS) students at breakfast and lunch, contains less sugar, carbohydrates, sodium, and calories, and is free of artificial flavorings. Mayfield notes that the changes were made as part of an attempt to encourage healthier eating and combat childhood obesity, as well as comply with, and even exceed national nutrition standards for school meals.  According to Jan Loomans, Director of Operational Services, the NCSS Nutrition Department has been urging Mayfield suppliers to improve the nutrient content of its flavored milk in order to provide students with more healthful options.  

Currently, milk served to NCSS students as part of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs meets requirements set forth by The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), the Federal regulations for school food service programs.  As of this school year, 2012-2013, all milk offered to students is fat-free, plain or flavored, or low-fat (1%) plain.  Therefore, in response to these guidelines, students have already been consuming less fat, saturated fat, and calories from their milk, and with the new Mayfield formula, they are now consuming less sugar, sodium, and even fewer calories. The reductions in added sugars and sodium are in accordance with key dietary strategies of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, a nutrition guidance document written and updated regularly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

As the nutrition label (below) indicates, the traditional TruMoo Nonfat Chocolate Milk formula contained 22 grams of sugar, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 200 milligrams of sodium, and 130 calories. Artificial flavor was also present in the ingredient list. The new product remains fat-free, but has 4 fewer grams of sugars and total carbohydrates, 20 milligrams less sodium, 10 less calories, and no artificial flavors in comparison to the previous product.

Why is this change important? Due to increasing childhood obesity rates, Federal and professional expert organizations have provided guidance to school nutrition professionals for foods and beverages consumed by students. For instance, the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) published recommendations which include reducing added sugars in children’s diets, as sugar containing foods add calories, often with few other nutrients. The Institute notes that fat-free flavored milk, which is a nutrient dense beverage, is a recommended option for children if it contains no more than 22 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving. Therefore, the new Mayfield formula exceeds these recommendations.  In addition, it is important to note that not all of the sugar found in flavored milk is added. All milk contains natural sugar; an 8-ounce glass of plain milk contains 12 grams of sugar in the form of lactose. Therefore, the added sugar content of the new Mayfield product has been substantially reduced.

Flavored milk contains many important nutrients that are also found in plain milk; both milks supply potassium, protein, riboflavin, phosphorus, niacin, and vitamins A, D, and B12.  According to the 2010 Dietary Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, several of the nutrients provided in milk are lacking in the diets of many children and adolescents.  Due to the importance of obtaining these nutrients, The American Academy of Pediatrics, clarified their view on the role of flavored milks in children diets, stating that “flavored milks could be a nice alternative since the contribution of added sugars to the overall diet of young children is minimal”. The National Dairy Council agrees with the Academy’s statement, adding that flavored milk with minimal added sugar is an important option for children who might otherwise avoid plain milk due to dislike for the taste.  Therefore, the NCSS School Nutrition Department is pleased to offer this new milk formula to students as it offers less added sugars and calories, yet retains its palatable taste, helping to ensure that students obtain the essential nutrients found in this beverage.

References are available upon request. Please contact Brittany Bingeman, SNP Wellness Coordinator, for more information at bingeman.brittany@newton.k12.ga.us.