The USDA Guidelines to Healthy Snacks and Its Highlights

The USDA Guidelines to Healthy Snacks and Its Highlights

There are few specific guidelines formulated and laid by the USDA regarding healthy snacking. This highlights the different needs and benefits of it. The new proposal for the standard guidelines is based on the recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine. There are even a few changes and additions made in the already existing voluntary standards that are applicable in different areas around the country especially the offices as well as the healthy food and beverage offerings that are available in the marketplace.

The highlights of the proposal of USDA include:

  • Encouraging more healthy snacks and foods that contain whole grains and also includes fruits, nuts, and dairy products of low fat, veggies and protein foods
  • Eating and promoting other foods that contain all or most of the above elements as its essential elements
  • Ensuring that the snack food items are low in fat and sugar content with low sodium and more essential nutrients
  • The variance in the standards for the targeted audience as per the age group and depending on the factors such as caffeine content and beverage portion size
  • The flexibility of important traditions and preserving the ability to carry bagged lunches especially for the office goers
  • For specific treats and activities following traditional bake sales and occasional fundraisers for holidays, birthday parties and other celebrations
  • Reasonable limitations on the applicability of the standards depending on the place and the time when such food is supplied because after office activities may not need to follow such standards
  • Flexibility for the state as well as local communities that will allow both autonomies to establish minimum requirements in different places as per their own policies and
  • The significant transition period for the industry as well as other areas where Healthy snacks is a primary requirement.

According to the law and USDA regulation, these specific standards will not be effective until an implementing rule is published and until at least a few public comments are considered. This will provide the vendors as well as the offices enough time to adapt.

However, the USDA welcomes public reviews and comments to the proposal that they will consider and use for further consideration. Once the rule is circulated through the Federal Register you will be able to give your feedback to the USDA guidelines for healthy snacks for a period of 60 days.

Sale and availability of snack foods

The government especially the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC has issued a report in general that analyzed the different state policies for food and beverages served in different places. Though there is a specific set of state laws already existing in about 39 states, the regulation and existing policy related to the sale and availability of snack foods and beverages have been analyzed and amended.

There are several cases wherein the local level policies and practices surpassed the requirements and recommendations of the state regarding this matter. It is here the proposal of USDA will come very handy as it will establish a national reference point for these standards. The overall goal however of these rules is to improve the health, overall wellbeing, nutrition, productivity and efficiency among people.

About the package

There are a few things that you should know about these proposed standards and these are:

  • These standards proposed by the USDA are part of the bi-partisan package of modifications passed by Congress in 2010
  • These standards are typically designed to ensure that people always get healthy snacking options
  • It includes updated nutrition standards for the federally subsidized meals and snacks with the inclusion of elements such as more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

Apart from all these, governments also provide additional funding to support improved snacks and meals. Collectively, all these policies will help you to combat hunger pangs but at the same time help you to keep obesity away. It will help you to improve your health and nutrition.

About the service

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers different nutrition assistance programs. It includes:

  • National Lunch and Breakfast programs in different places
  • Summer Food Service Program
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children or WIC. 

All these programs together make up the federal nutrition safety net.

Guidelines and resources to follow

There are a few specific guidelines and resources to follow for increasing healthy snacking habit and eliminating the chances of supplying inferior and unhealthy foods in any place whether it is in your office or any other event and other programs.

All food must:

  • Be whole grain rich product
  • Have a fruit, dairy product, vegetable, or protein as a first ingredient
  • Be a combination of at least a quarter cup fruit and vegetable or
  • Contain 10% of the daily nutrient value of calcium, potassium, dietary fiber or vitamin D.

According to the guidelines, the food served must have calorie and other limits as under:

  • 200 calories or fewer for snacks and 350 calories or fewer for entrees
  • Less than 230mg sodium for snacks and less than 480 mg for entrees
  • Total fat must be less than 35% of calories and saturated fat less than 10% of calories with no Trans Fat and
  • Less than 35% of total weight as sugar limit.

As for the beverage, the proposed guidelines specify that it must include:

  • Plain water with or without carbonation
  • Unflavored low-fat milk
  • 100% vegetable or fruit juice that may be diluted with water if there is no extra sweetener in it and
  • Unflavored or flavored fat-free milk or milk alternatives.

The portion sizes of these beverages are also specifically mentioned as per the age of the consumer but that is limited to the food supplied in different schools in the country.

An important fact about these guidelines is that these are very much similar to the Healthier Generation’s Competitive Food Guidelines. In order to find out whether or not you are providing snacks to your employees that are in accordance to these USDA these guidelines, you can use the Alliance’s product calculator and also get alternative suggestions.

Author Bio: Sujain Thomas is a leading blog writer and expert travel photographer. She has written numerous articles and blog posts on topics related to Travel, Food, Lifestyle, Home Improvement, and Photography etc.

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