The Child Nutrition (CN) Labeling Program permits food manufacturers to place a statement, authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), on their product labels 4. The statement consists of the product's contribution to the meal requirements, which seek to produce only nutritional meals, through the rules established by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), according to the USDA 123.
Meat and Meat Alternate
In order to qualify as a CN label food, a meat or meat alternate must be at least 1/4 oz., and served as a part of the main dish for meals served as lunch or dinner. It may also be served as part of the main dish and another dish in the meal. Fish, poultry, fresh or frozen meat, dry beans, nuts and eggs may all be used as the meat or meat alternate portion of the meal, indicates the Food and Nutrition Service 2.
Fruits and Vegetables
Products that are juice-based, like sherbet and fruit juices, do qualify as CN label foods, but fresh fruit doesn't, according to the University of Mississippi. The juice-based product must contain at least 50 percent of real fruit juice. Canned medium, heavy and extra heavy tomato paste is a vegetable CN label food.
Breads and Grains
Breads and grains on the CN list must be either made from flour that's enriched or whole-grain, or are simply enriched or whole grain, according to the FNS 3. Bran and germ receive credits similar to these products, though. Bread, rolls, biscuits, crackers and tortillas qualify for CN labels. Additionally, foods, like rice, grits, oatmeal cookies, pretzels and noodle products also fall into this category.
Most child nutrition programs require that milk is served at every meal, notes Team Nutrition. During lunch and dinner the milk must be fluid, and served as a beverage. For breakfast, milk may be served over cereal to meet the requirement.
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