Skip to content
Printer-friendly version

Competitive Foods and Beverages FAQs

Frequently asked questions to aid understanding of the competitive food and beverage requirements in California.
  1. What does the term “competitive foods and beverages” mean?

    Under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 7, Part 210.11, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines “competitive foods” as “any foods sold in competition with [a federally reimbursable school meal program] to children in food service areas.” The food service area is where the reimbursable meals are sold or eaten, which in California schools means virtually the entire campus. Competitive foods and beverages are those sold at school outside of and in competition with the federally reimbursable meal programs.

  1. What are the rules for selling competitive foods and beverages to students, and who makes these rules?

    This information is being updated and will be available soon.

  2. Where can I find the rules governing the sales of competitive foods and beverages?

    There are a variety of places you can find these rules. There are also places that include additional information for each set of rules.

    Local School Wellness Policy: Section 104 of the 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act can be found at:

    CFR, Title 7, Part 210.11, Appendix B: The FMNV list can be found at:

    EC, sections 49430-49431.7 can be found at:

    • California Law http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes.xhtml] External link opens in new window or tab.
    • Bill Information [http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billSearchClient.xhtml] External link opens in new window or tab. (current and past Senate and Assembly Bills)

    CCR, Title 5, sections 15500-15501, and 15575-15578 can be found at:

    • California Code of Regulations [https://govt.westlaw.com/calregs/Index?bhcp=1&transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)] External link opens in new window or tab. (select “Search for a Specific Regulatory Section,” type Title 5, type in individual section number, and select the “1” in the top left)
  1. Which rules apply to the different groups that sell food and beverages on school campuses?

    Student organizations (includes Associated Student Body) must comply with:

    1. California EC sections 49430-49431.7
    2. CFR, Title 7, Part 210.11, Appendix B: FMNV
    3. CCR, Title 5, sections 15500 and 15501
    4. CCR, Title 5, sections 15575-15578
    5. The school district’s Local School Wellness Policy

    PTA/PTO/Parent Groups/Other adults must comply with:

    1. California Education Code sections 49430-49431.7
    2. CFR, Title 7, Part 210.11, Appendix B: FMNV
    3. CCR, Title 5, sections 15575-15578
    4. The school district’s Local School Wellness Policy

    Food Service (selling individual items) must comply with:

    1. California EC, sections 49430-49431.7
    2. CFR, Title 7, Part 210.11, Appendix B: FMNV
    3. CCR, Title 5, sections 15575-15578
    4. The school district’s Local School Wellness Policy

    Consider which rules are relevant and apply them to your particular situation.

  2. What if some of the requirements for the sale of competitive foods and beverages seem to conflict with one another?

    If requirements for the sale of competitive foods and beverages seem to conflict, then the stricter rule applies.

  3. What are the general parameters of each set of rules for competitive food and beverage sales?

    This information is being updated and will be available soon.

  4. Are public schools, charter schools, and private schools required to follow the same competitive food and beverage rules?

    This information is being updated and will be available soon.

  5. I am from a Residential Child Care Institution (RCCI). What competitive food and beverage rules do RCCI’s have to follow?

    A school site on the grounds of an RCCI that sells foods or beverages outside a USDA meal program would follow the requirements as described in question 7 (find type of school, meal program participation, etc. to determine which requirements apply).

    An RCCI which is not part of a school site that participates in a USDA meal program, and sells foods or beverages outside the USDA meal program must follow only the following:

    1. Local School Wellness Policy
    2. Code of Federal Regulations on Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value
  1. How are the rules governing competitive foods monitored and enforced?

    This information is being updated and will be available soon.

  2. My public school campus contains grades K through eighth. How do I determine which EC sections to follow – the requirements for elementary school, middle/junior high, or a combination thereof

    A K-8 school campus meets the definition for a middle/junior high school. According to EC, Section 49430, the definitions for public schools are:

    • An elementary school cannot contain a grade higher than sixth grade.
    • A middle school can contain grades seventh or eighth, seventh to ninth, inclusive, or seventh to tenth, inclusive.
    • A high school contains any grades tenth to twelfth, inclusive.

    Although by law, a K-8 school can sell items that comply with the middle/junior high school requirements, many K-8 schools create stricter requirements that do not provide the lower grades certain foods or beverages otherwise allowed by law.
  1. The definition for elementary school in EC, Section 49430 seems to conflict with the definition for elementary school in CCR, Title 5, Section 15500. Which is correct?

    The Nutrition Services Division determined that CCR, Section 15500 does not define the grades an elementary school must contain. In addition, the Legislature defined elementary school in statute (i.e., EC) and statute supersedes regulations. Therefore, the definitions for elementary (middle/junior high, and high school) for all competitive food and beverages requirements are defined by EC, Section 49430.

  2. I understand that a whole grain food item can be sold in elementary schools. How do I determine if a product is a whole grain food?

    EC, Section 49431(a)(2) allows for a “whole grain food item” to be sold in elementary schools provided it contains no more than 35 percent calories from fat, no more than 10 percent calories from saturated fat, no more than 35 percent sugar by weight, and no more than 175 calories per item/container. CCR, Section 15575(g) provides examples of different types of whole grains. Section 15575(h) describes how to determine if a purchased or a prepared item is considered whole grain.

  3. What are some examples of “added sweetener”?

    According to EC, Section 49430(e), a sweetener is defined as any additive other than 100 percent fruit juice that enhances the sweetness of a beverage. This includes any caloric, non-caloric, natural, and FDA-approved artificial sweeteners, with the exception of 100 percent fruit juice. Some examples of “added sweeteners” include agave syrup/juice, aspartame, brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, iso malt, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, mannitol, maple sugar, molasses, raw sugar, saccharin, sorbitol, sucralose, sucrose, sugar, syrup, tapioca syrup, turbinado sugar, and xylitol.

  4. Is there a maximum level of added sweetener or sugar for milk and nondairy milk?

    According to the CCR, Title 5, Section 15576(c) and (d)(1), milk or nondairy milk must not contain any added sweeteners that exceed 28 grams of total sugar per 8 fluid ounces. Flavored milks or nondairy milks are allowed, but must meet the sugar restriction as well as other restrictions found in the CCR referenced above.

  5. The he law defines specific beverages that are allowed (certain fruit/vegetable juices, water, milk, or electrolyte replacement beverages). How do I determine if a beverage is compliant if it contains a mix of different beverages?

    If a beverage contains a blend of beverages that would all otherwise be compliant, then the mixed beverage is considered compliant. For example, if a beverage contains a mix of fruit and vegetable juices, and the fruit juice and vegetable juice would be compliant by themselves, then the mixed beverage is compliant. If a beverage is a blend of compliant and non-compliant beverages, the blend is not compliant. For example, if a beverage contains a mix of milk (compliant) and coffee (non-compliant) then this beverage does not comply with California’s requirements.

  6. Why do the state regulations require that an electrolyte replacement beverage contain sodium and potassium?

    Electrolyte replacement beverages (ERBs) are designed to replace vital electrolytes lost during exercise. The two electrolytes lost in the largest quantities through sweat during exercise are sodium and potassium.

  7. Is it true that sodas and other non-compliant beverages can still be sold in schools?

    This information is being updated and will be available soon.

  8. Until June 30, 2009, only 50 percent of the beverages sold on a high school campus must comply with the beverage restrictions. What documentation do schools need to provide to the California Department of Education to verify that at least 50 percent of beverages sold comply with the beverage restrictions?

    This information is being updated and will be available soon.

  9. Are 100 percent juice popsicles considered a food or a liquid?

    Popsicles are considered a food. Products that are in a solid state when sold are considered a food. A liquid is a fluid that can be poured, or a fluid that takes on the shape or form in which it is contained. A fluid poured over ice, or substances blended with ice are also considered beverages.

  10. Are foods and beverages that are served or given (and not sold) to students required to follow any of these rules?

    EC, Section 49430 defines “sold” as the exchange of money, coupons, or vouchers for food. If a food does not meet the definition of “sold,” then it is not required to comply with the state or federal competitive food and beverage rules. Since the current law does not address foods and beverages given (and not sold) to students, school districts may have adopted policy, as part of their Local School Wellness Policy, that restricts the type of foods and beverages given to students.

  11. Are any food and beverage items exempt (e.g. allowed) under the competitive food and beverage rules?

    This information is being updated and will be available soon.

  12. How is a single packaged food item containing a mix of exempt and non-exempt foods and/or ingredients measured for compliance?

    According to the CCR, Title 5, Section 15578(c) a food item containing non-exempt foods or ingredients, combined with exempt items, is considered non-exempt and must comply with the restrictions for a non-exempted food. For example, plain peanuts are considered exempt, but honey roasted, or chocolate covered peanuts are a mix of exempt and non-exempt foods and/or ingredients so they are considered non-exempt.

  13. Why can certain dried fruits contain added sugar while other forms of fruit cannot?

    Certain fruits are processed using a sugar water solution as a dehydrating agent. As a result of the dehydration process, some of the sugar in the solution is passively transferred into the fruit. Other dried fruits (when chopped during processing) are too sticky to stay separate. A fine coating of sugar prevents the chopped pieces from clumping together. Fruits that contain added sugar and comply with California’s nutrition standards include, but are not limited to, dried cherries, cranberries, blueberries, tropical fruits, chopped dates, and chopped figs.

  14. Can we sell popcorn to our students?

    Elementary Schools
    Popcorn is considered a whole grain food item and can be sold to elementary pupils (K-6). The popcorn must meet the requirements of Education Code sections 49431 and 49431.2 (no more than 35 percent fat, no more than 10 percent saturated fat, no more than 35 percent sugar by weight, and no more than 175 calories per food item).

    Middle/High Schools
    Popcorn may be sold to middle/high school pupils as long as the popcorn meets the requirements of Education Code sections 49431 and 49431.2 (no more than 35 percent fat, no more than 10 percent saturated fat, no more than 35 percent sugar by weight, and no more than 250 calories per food item).

  15. I have heard that schools cannot sell foods containing artificial trans fats. Is that correct?

    This information is being updated and will be available soon.

Back to Top

Questions:   Questions:   Mike Danzik | mdanzik@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-7346
Rema El-Mahmoud | rel-mahmoud@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-5757
Download Free Readers

The USDA and the CDE are equal opportunity providers and employers.
Esto explica qué hacer si usted cree que se le ha tratado injustamente.