PCRM requested USDA to remove dairy milk from school menus

A medical committee has requested the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to remove dairy milk from school menus, calling it an “ineffective placebo”.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has urged the USDA to launch a report to Congress suggesting that the National School Lunch Act should be changed by removing dairy milk as a required component of meals.

Instead, the PCRM have recommended calcium-enriched soy milk, rice milk and fruit juices as replacements.

According to the PCRM petition, the above products do contain calcium but have low sodium and are free of animal protein which causes calcium to excrete from the body.

The petition stated: “The nutritional rationale for including dairy milk in school meal programs was based primarily on its calcium content; therefore dairy milk was presumed to promote bone health and integrity.

“This supposition was proven false. Abundant evidence has shown that milk has no special effect on bone health and does not prevent fractures in children or adults”.

The petition cited plenty of research which suggested that consuming milk does not improve bone health or minimise the risks of osteoporosis.

The petition added: “While calcium is an essential nutrient, it is available from many other foods that have a more healthful nutritional profile, compared with dairy products”.

The PCRM also said that the public can still consume its essential calcium intake by eating beans, green leafy vegetables and non-dairy, calcium-enriched beverages such as soy milk, rich milk and fruit juice.

The petition continued: “Calcium-enriched soymilk contains the same level of calcium as dairy milk, but, unlike dairy milk, it is low in sodium and free of animal protein. An additional benefit to bone health from consuming soy products is soy’s ability to enhance calcium retention”.

“In light of the abundant scientific evidence, and to better safeguard the health and well-being of the nation’s schoolchildren,” it said. “USDA should issue a report to Congress recommending that Congress amend the National School Lunch Act to exclude dairy milk as a required component of meals under the National School Lunch Program”.

The National School Lunch Program was created under the 1946 National School Lunch Act with the purpose of looking after the health of the schoolchildren and enhancing the consumption of agricultural commodities such as milk.

The US Congress has changed the Act many times since it was created. Butter was removed from the program in 1976 and low-fat milk replaced whole milk in 1989.

Susan Levin, the PCRM nutrition education director, said: “Milk doesn’t make children grow taller and stronger, but it can make them heavier. We are Congress and the USDA to put children’s interests above the interests of the dairy industry”.


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