The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently clarified that there has been no change in the nutrient requirements for any milk provided in the federal feeding program for women and children. Whole milk remains exempt from the vitamin A fortification levels that are required for reduced-fat, lowfat or fat-free milk offered in the program.

When cream is separated from milk to produced reduced-fat, lowfat or fat-free milk, some of the vitamin A is removed with the fat. Because reduced-fat versions of milk must be nutritionally equivalent to whole milk, the Food and Drug Administration's food labeling regulations require the lower-fat versions, to be fortified with vitamin A.

USDA issued the clarification because its 2007 interim final rule revising the food packages for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) did not specifically exempt whole milk from the vitamin A fortification requirement.

According to USDA, "There has been no change in the nutrient requirements for any WIC-authorized milk. All WIC authorized milks must be pasteurized and contain 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per quart of whole milk and 400 IU of vitamin D, plus 2000 IU of vitamin A per quart of reduced-fat, lowfat or fat-free milk. The nutrient requirement pertains to all authorized milks; for dried milk (i.e., powdered) and evaporated milk, vitamin requirements are per reconstituted quart."

The interim rule is designed to align the food packages more closely with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and will be implemented by October 1, 2009.