The National Milk Producers Federation last week supported Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy's veto of legislation to ban chocolate flavored milk in the state's school lunchrooms, calling the move "common sense."
NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern said removing chocolate milk in schools could have unintended consequences.
"It's encouraging to see reason and common sense returning to the debate over chocolate milk in schools. As a recent university study made clear, schools that remove chocolate milk from the cafeteria are simply throwing the nutritional baby out with the bathwater," he said.
According to Mulhern, a ban deprives kids of calcium, protein and other needed nutrients while increasing waste and boosting costs.
Mulhern's comments are backed by data released earlier this year from Cornell pilot study at 11 Oregon elementary schools. The study found that offering skim milk in place of chocolate flavored milk during school lunch decreased total milk sales by 10% and increased milk waste by 29%.
Students may even stop eating school meals because of the switch, the Cornell data indicated.
"Certainly, obesity is a serious problem among today's youth. But the answer isn't to ban chocolate milk," Mulhern said. "Connecticut is not required to pass this legislation to keep its federal school meals funding. Federal nutrition standards specifically allow schools to serve fat-free chocolate milk as part of reimbursable meals and in cafeteria a la carte lines.
"Governor Malloy is to be congratulated for thinking this through, and not opting for the quick, easy but wrong solution," Mulhern said.
According to the National Dairy Council, flavored milk contributes 3% of added sugars to kids’ diets versus sodas and fruit drinks, which account for close to half of the added sugar and deliver "much less, if any nutritional value."