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Texas Department of Human Services


Date: April 30, 1993           Reference #: 93-16
To: Child Nutrition Program Contractors
Subject: Dietary Guidelines for Americans Recommendations for Fat and
Sodium as Relates to the Child Nutrition Programs

The Nutrition and Technical Services Division (NTSD) of the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, has received numerous phone calls from the food industry inquiring on how to calculate the percentage of calories from fat in products they produce. Based on conversations with food industry representatives, it appears that a lot of schools will not purchase products in which the vendor does not have the percentage of calories from fat and sodium levels available. Also, the telephone conversations indicate that some schools will not purchase products that contain more than 30 percent calories from fat or above a certain sodium level.

The Dietary Guidelines are the officially adopted Federal nutrition policy. However, as indicated above, sometimes the fat and sodium guidelines are being misinterpreted. The guideline of 30 percent of calories from fat applies to diets over several days, not to a meal or a specific food. Therefore, foods and meals should not be evaluated exclusively by fat content expressed as a percent of calories. The Dietary Guidelines Committee did not establish quantified levels of sodium to be consumed each day. The guidelines state to "use salt and sodium only in moderation" which is the nutrition policy recommended for all Child Nutrition Programs.

Some foods with a relatively high percentage of fat are important sources of essential nutrients, and some foods with no fat are of little nutritional value. The attachment illustrates why it is not appropriate to apply the percent of calories from fat to individual foods.

Please contact this office if you have any questions about the Dietary Guidelines and USDA recommendations.


   Updated: November 5, 2001

Texas Department of Human Services 701 W. 51st Street Austin, Texas 78751
P.O. Box 149030 Austin, Texas 78714-9030
(888) 834-7406
(888) 425-6889 (TDD)

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