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20 U.S. States Fail CSPI's School Foods Report Card

20 U.S. States Fail CSPI's School Foods Report Card

"The soda companies have cynically gone from advocating 'local control' to urging federal preemption of any law that bans diet soda from public schools. Seven states have already banned diet soda. Any federal law should only set a minimum floor, with both school districts and states free to enact higher standards."
- Ross Getman,

December 5, 2007 —

Twenty states have failed the Center for Science in the Public Interest's annual school foods report card, and nearly two-thirds received grades of "D" or lower. The biggest factor in keeping grades so low this year was a lack of health standards for so called "competitive foods," which are any foods and beverages sold in schools that don't fall under the school lunch plans. Most schools now have vending machines offering such items as flavored water, sodas, and potato chips, and health advocates like Margo Wootan of CSPI, are calling for direct federal regulation of these foods:

The majority of states still rely on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s outdated school nutrition standards. Those national standards limit only the sale of jelly beans, lollipops, and other so-called ‘foods of minimal nutritional value.’ Those standards don’t address calories, saturated and trans fat, sodium, or other key nutrition concerns for children today.

Such regulation is in the works in the form of the Harkin-Murkowski amendment, which aims to ban sugary drinks and set limits for calorie, sodium, saturated fat and trans fat content in all foods sold in schools.

At face value this legislation may seem like a good step, but it bans state regulators from adopting stricter standards and continues to permit the sale of diet sodas. That means that the efforts of most major American cities to keep all soda out of their schools would be moot. No wonder the legislation has the support of the American Beverage Association.

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