More transparency needed on school milk nutrition


The consumer advocacy body also highlighted the lack of publicly available data into the national school milk marketplace, observing that the US dairy industry “closely guards​” its data.

In its report ‘Behind the Carton​​,’ the CSPI examined Nutrition Facts and ingredient data for 22 unflavored and 29 flavored single-serve milks (8 fl oz) produced by 11 leading dairy companies to see if they meet school nutrition standards​​ which are stricter (see boxes below).

On test were products from Danone North America, Organic Valley, Shamrock Farms, Smith Foods, Inc, Wawa Inc, Borden Dairy Co., and others. The researchers compared the data available from on-pack labels as well as directly from manufacturers if this was unavailable. Only fluid cow’s milk sold to schools in single-serve, half pint or 8 fl oz containers was included in the study.


Milk naturally contains sodium, but of the 29 flavored milk products in the sample, 20 milks had added salt as an ingredient, 16 of which contributed more than half of the sodium intake for the youngest grade group at breakfast under a DGA-aligned target, said the CSPI.

The amount of naturally occurring sodium (which ranged from 95–160 mg per 8lf oz and averaged 117 mg) in the 22 unflavored milk products included in this report does not present a public health concern nor would these levels of naturally occurring sodium make it unfeasible for school food authorities​ (SFAs) to meet a DGA-aligned sodium-reduction target.

“In contrast, the 29 flavored milk products included in this report had between 95–250 mg of sodium (with an average of 164 mg), and 20 of them (69%) had salt as an added ingredient. While all 29 flavored milk products would contribute less than half of the sodium at K–5 breakfast under Target 1 (< 540 mg), 16 of them would contribute more than half of the sodium under a DGA-aligned target at K–5 breakfast (≤ 340 mg).


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