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Mass. regulators say flavored milk can stay in public schools

Got (flavored) milk?

State regulators created an uproar when they considered banning chocolate, strawberry, and other varieties of sweetened milk from schoolhouses three years ago as a way to help shrink the bulging waistlines of children. They delayed that action, and now flavored milk will continue to be sold in Massachusetts public schools under proposed nutrition rules unveiled Wednesday.

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“We would have had push-back for sure” if flavors were scrapped, said state Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett. “Schools and parents tell us kids are throwing away plain milk.”

The rules, intended to bring the state into compliance with new federal regulations, apply to items sold in school snack shops, vending machines, and a la carte cafeteria lines.

Most of the updates are minimal, and regulators said school nutrition rules Massachusetts adopted three years ago remain among the most stringent in the nation, prohibiting french fries, calorie-laden snacks, and white-bread sandwiches, while also strictly controlling portion sizes.

Under the new proposal, an 8-ounce serving of flavored milk must not have more than roughly 5 teaspoons of sugar. Schools shouldn’t have a problem, regulators said, because there are plenty of products that meet those guidelines, and most schools already sell them.

“We have eliminated sugar in every way we possibly can,” Bartlett said. “This is about balance and moderation.”

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