IDFA Warns That WIC Changes Would Have Significant Negative Impact
In comments submitted today to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), IDFA warned that the agency's proposed rule changing food packages for participants in The Special Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) would have a significant negative impact on program participants. IDFA also demonstrated how the proposed changes would have extensive economic consequences for the federal government as well as the dairy industry.
The proposed changes would decrease the amount of milk and cheese that program participants are allowed to purchase and would not allow yogurt to be substituted for milk.
USDA proposed the changes based on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the WIC package. In an effort to maintain the same program cost, USDA has proposed reducing the amount of dairy and other food products.
According to data from USDA and IOM, however, WIC program participants already often lack adequate levels of key nutrients like calcium, potassium and magnesium, which are readily found in one source: dairy products.
"Our overriding concern is with the overall reduction of the proposed daily allowance for dairy products, down from four to three servings per day for most women and from three servings to two servings per day for children, a decrease of 25% to 33%, respectively," the comments state. "This will likely result in more cases of weakened and broken bones, more surgeries and more hospitalization in the WIC population."
In the comments, IDFA calls for a three-pronged approach to enhance the health and nutrition of WIC participants: (1) maintain the current dairy product allocation of four servings per day for most women, and three servings per day for children; (2) increase the allowance for cheese to be substituted for milk; and (3) add yogurt as an allowable substitute for milk.
Maintaining the current dairy allowance and increasing cheese and yogurt consumption would enhance calcium intake by key segments of the WIC population, the comments explain, especially those who are lactose intolerant. The comments also note that Hispanic women have a preference for cheese products, and Asian women often prefer yogurt in place of fluid milk.
IDFA called for USDA to develop a methodology, such as a pilot program, and criteria for evaluating the impact and effectiveness of the proposed changes. If that's not possible, IDFA asked that the program changes be instituted through an Interim Final Rule so that adjustments could be made after an appropriate evaluation period.
After review and consideration of the comments received by end of business today, USDA will begin the process of drafting a final rule.
To read IDFA's comments, click here.
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IDFA would like to thank the Ad Hoc Working Group on Nutrition for its help with IDFA's comments. IDFA also thanks General Mills/Yoplait, Kraft Foods and Leprino Foods Company for filing individual comments with USDA. If any other member companies filed comments, please send a copy to Michelle Matto, IDFA assistant director of regulatory affairs, at email@example.com.
Posted November 6, 2006