WASHINGTON – On April 13, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association delivered comments to the US Dept. of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service regarding its proposed “Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.”

Kristina Butts, NCBA executive director of legislative affairs said NCBA supports efforts to improve the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and urges USDA to consider naturally nutrient-rich lean beef to help meet dietary needs for school children.

“Cattle producers strongly support a healthy diet for growing children that includes whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and lean meats such as beef,” said Scott George, NCBA vice president and Wyoming cattle producer. “As USDA updates the nutrition standards for the school lunch and breakfast programs, lean beef should be emphasized as it contributes significantly to intakes of protein and many other key nutrients without providing significantly to intakes of total fat, saturated fatty acids or sodium.”

NCBA expressed concern over a recommendation to discourage processed foods. Although there is a need to reduce sodium content in the diet, sodium plays a functional role in texture development and in controlling microbial growth and food preservation, Butts said.

“While we recognize and support the need to reduce sodium content in children’s diets, it is important to recognize that beef currently contributes 1 percent or less to total sodium intake in children and adolescents,” she added. “Furthermore, emerging innovation is resulting in processed meats that are lower in fat and sodium. Processed meats provide high quality protein and nutrients to a healthy diet for growing children.”