Is milk harming children?

One nonprofit urges the USDA to remove milk from students’ trays.

Milk: It does a body good. Not so fast says the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

In the evolving school milk fight—first it was chocolate milk, then high fructose corn syrup—PCRM says milk, of any kind, should be taken off the school lunch menu.

“One of the only reasons people talk about dairy, or promote it at all, is because it is going to help build strong bones,” said Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the PCRM, in an interview with Time. “Research has now made it abundantly clear that milk doesn’t build strong bones. Whether we are talking about children who are forming bones or older people who are trying to keep their bone integrity, milk doesn’t have a beneficial effect on either one.”

Last week PCRM sent a petition to the UDSA’s Food and Nutrition Services department urging it to remove milk from children’s trays. In the petition the group says that while milk does contain calcium, it also is high in sugar, “animal growth factors, occasional drugs and contaminants, and a substantial amount of fat and cholesterol in all but the defatted versions.”

The group went on to say that schools should focus on non-dairy sources for calcium, such as beans, tofu, broccoli, kale, collard greens and calcium-fortified beverages.

When I spoke to Dr. James Rippe, founder of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute, cardiologist and professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Florida, about flavored milk in schools a couple of weeks ago, his passion for student milk consumption was palpable. Here’s what he had to say about children drinking milk: “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans have a lot of recommendations in this area. They listed four nutrients of particular concern: calcium, vitamin D, potassium and fiber. Milk is the main source of three of those.”

I didn’t ask Dr. Rippe about the PCRM petition, but I think it’s fair to say that his reaction would be negative.

What I find confusing about PCRM’s petition is that it suggests that child nutrition professionals focus on the entire child’s diet to better health and nutrition. So why is the council zeroing in on milk? The entire point of the new meal regulations, My Plate and just about every nutrition plan out there is to have a well-balanced meal. Milk isn’t the enemy. Let’s not waste time and energy in places where it doesn’t need to be spent. We have a big enough problem with child obesity in this country. Let’s direct our resources to fixing the real problem.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chicken dinner

For the last three years, we’ve hosted an event called Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner. We sponsor the local chapter of Future Farmers of America to raise the chickens, and we have to arrange all the transporting from farms to the distributor, which keeps the birds in a freezer until we’re ready. We build hype by having students vote on the proprietary spice blend they would like on the chicken. It helps the nutrition team get involved in the educational process and showcase local food purchasing.

Ideas and Innovation
employees generation multicultural

We are no longer short staffed, ever. On a given day, missing two team members from a team of 50 would leave us 96% staffed. The actual choice of wording places a positive emphasis on those that did come to serve our guests and patients. We no longer use the phrase “short staffed”; this is a game-changer when we are challenging ourselves as culture facilitators or leaders.

Ideas and Innovation
food symbols allergens

To make safe food as accessible as possible for our guests with allergies, we are creating an allergen-friendly kitchen this summer. Students and community members will be able to use our mobile app to place orders for allergen-friendly food and pick them up at the central kitchen. The kitchen will also produce grab-and-go options that will be distributed across campus.

Ideas and Innovation
construction plans drawing tools calculator

When revamping an old cafeteria or building a new retail spot, the design process can feel like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle: What needs to fit in the space, and what’s the most efficient flow for staffers, cooks, diners and more?

Cathy Estes, administrative director of nutrition services at four northern Indiana hospitals that are part of the Franciscan Health network, faced the creation of a new in-house dining program at Franciscan’s Munster hospital. Amid all the big plans, design was one of the largest undertakings.

“I was looking at 5,000 square feet on a...

FSD Resources