SCHOOL LUNCH: USDA Wants Schools to Serve Up More Soy
Touting soy as a healthy alternative to fat-laden meats, USDA officials have proposed lifting restrictions on its use in school lunches. Currently, schools may only use soy as a food additive in amounts of less than 30%, but the agriculture department wants to allow schools to offer meatless entrees, such as tofu-stuffed ravioli, in an effort to reduce the fat content of students' meals. USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Shirley Watkins said, "It's time has come. I think people are more receptive than they would have been five or 10 years ago." Vegetarians and animal rights activists have praised the proposal, but critics, including cattle ranchers, argue that children will miss out on needed nutrients, such as iron and protein. USDA officials dismissed the concerns, however, contending that as long as meals are balanced, children will receive all the necessary nutrients. A final decision on the change should be rendered by mid-February (AP/Washington Times, 12/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.