American daycare centers may not be frying foods in the future. The US Department of Agriculture is proposing dietary guidelines that would prohibit child care providers from frying foods and from serving pre-packaged fried food such as fish sticks or chicken nuggets more than once a week.
Tim Devaney, writing for The Hill, says that day care children must be provided water upon request and would be restricted in the amount of apple juice and orange juice they were allowed to be served.
"Daycare homes must make drinking water available to children, as nutritionally appropriate, throughout the day, including at meal times," the USDA wrote.
At those day cares that receive government-funded meal programs, the new mandates will promote the "health and wellness of children", said the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service last week.
"While facilities would not be permitted under this proposed rule to prepare foods on site by frying them," the USDA wrote in the Federal Register, "store-bought, catered, or pre-fried foods can still contribute large amounts of calories and saturated fat to a meal. Therefore, facilities are encouraged to limit all fried and pre-fried foods to no more than once per week."
Another proposed change is to include tofu as a meat alternative. The public has 90 days to register their comments.
The Obama administration is pushing the potential new rules so that daycare food can become healthier. The proposal includes a requirement for daycares to serve a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and less sugar and fat.
These types of regulations have already been imposed on K-12 schools that serve students breakfast and lunch, says Tennile Tracy of The Wall Street Journal. The current changes are targeted at meals that are subsidized by the government's Child and Adult Care Food Program, serving 3.3 million children and 120,000 adults who require living assistance. At this time, in the US, one in five children under 5 is overweight or obese.
Some of the other provisions in the proposal include: serving only one juice serving per day; breakfast cereals with no more than 6 grams of sugar; two servings of whole grains each day; and more vegetables than are currently being served.
Priscilla Luong, reporting for WDJT-TV Milwaukee, says some parents disagree with parts of the new recommendations. They think that as long as the juice is 100% fruit, children should be able to have it when they want it. Day care workers interviewed by Luong think that the kids will have a hard time with some of the changes. The owner of 1st Class Childcare in Milwaukee, which is enrolled in the Social Development Commission's Food Program, which meets the USDA's criteria, says there will probably be a large amount of food going in the garbage, since children can be picky eaters.
The Department of Agriculture proposal document may be found online with instructions for those who would like to comment on the revisions. Some other changes recommended in the guidelines are: dividing the currently combined fruits and vegetables component into a separate fruit component and a vegetable component; excluding grain-based desserts as a grain component; and serving only fat-free flavored milk.