Legislators from New York and Idaho last week asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reclassify Greek yogurt as a source of protein under the MyPlate nutritional guidelines. Currently Greek yogurt is not differentiated from traditional yogurt, although it contains twice the amount of protein.
In a joint letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), James Risch (R-ID) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Representatives Richard Hanna (R-NY) and Mike Simpson (R-ID) requested a pilot program that would allow Greek yogurt to be included as a protein option in federally funded school meal programs.
"We believe that our states are ideal locations to demonstrate the many benefits that can be gained by crediting Greek yogurt in Children Nutrition programs in a fashion that reflects its protein content," the letter states. "We respectfully urge that you authorize a pilot program that allows – does not require – schools and other institutions participating in USDA Child Nutrition program to be credited for reimbursement for Greek yogurt on a basis that reflects the protein content for Greek yogurt."
Both states have economic interests in the Greek yogurt market. According to Gillibrand and Hanna, New York produces about 70 percent of the nation’s Greek yogurt. Just last December, Chobani Yogurt opened the largest Greek yogurt processing plant in the world in Twin Falls, Idaho.
For more information about the USDA 2012 Dietary Guidelines, “MyPlate” and school meal nutrition standards, contact Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.