The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) regarding its proposed rule entitled “Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.”
NCBA Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts said NCBA supports efforts to improve the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and urges USDA to consider naturally nutrient rich lean beef as a solution to meet nutrient needs for school children.
“Cattle producers strongly support a healthy diet for growing children that includes whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and lean meats such as beef,” said Scott George, NCBA vice-president and Wyoming cattle producer. “As USDA updates the nutrition standards for the school lunch and breakfast programs, lean beef should be emphasized as it contributes significantly to intakes of protein and many other key nutrients without providing significantly to intakes of total fat, saturated fatty acids or sodium.”
NCBA raised concern with a recommendation to discourage processed foods. Butts said while there is a need to reduce sodium content in the diet, sodium plays a functional role in texture development and in controlling microbial growth and food preservation.
“While we recognize and support the need to reduce sodium content in children’s diets, it is important to recognize that beef currently contributes 1 percent or less to total sodium intake in children and adolescents,” Butts said. “Furthermore, emerging innovation is resulting in processed meats that are lower in fat and sodium. Processed meats provide high quality protein and nutrients to a healthy diet for growing children.”
George said cattlemen are committed to providing wholesome, nutritious food for consumers.
“The NSLP and SBP play an important role in helping children develop a healthy lifestyle, which includes a well-balanced diet coupled with physical activity,” he said. “Lean beef is a naturally nutrient rich food option for schools and we appreciate USDA’s continued recognition of the important role it plays in the diets of Americans and especially school children.”