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Corn Masa (Dough) for Chips, Shells, and Tamales

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin
Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information
To: School Nutrition Program Sponsors Number: USDA-SNP-01-2013
Attention: Food Service Program Directors Date: January 2013
Subject: Corn Masa (Dough) for Use in Tortilla Chips, Taco Shells, and Tamales
Reference: Management Bulletin USDA-SNP-28-2012, U.S Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Policy Memo SP 02-2013 and SP 30-2012

This Management Bulletin (MB) is intended to provide clarification for use of corn products traditionally manufactured with corn masa dough where the corn is treated with lime (calcium hydroxide), such as tortilla chips, taco shells, and tamales. 

Whole Grain Requirement Timeline

For lunch, beginning July 1, 2012 (school year [SY] 2012–13), half of the grains offered during the school week must meet the whole grain-rich (WGR) criteria. For breakfast, beginning July 1, 2013 (SY 2013–14), half of the grains offered during the school week must meet the WGR criteria. Beginning July 1, 2014 (SY 2014–15), all grains must meet the WGR criteria for lunch and breakfast.  

Whole Grain Requirement Criteria
Grain products that meet the WGR criteria contain 100 percent whole grain or contain a blend of whole-grain meal and/or flour and enriched meal and/or flour of which at least 50 percent is whole grain. Whole grain-rich products must contain at least 50 percent whole grains and the remaining grain, if any, must be enriched.
Corn Masa Dough

In making traditional corn masa dough, the corn may be manufactured using wet milling procedures (corn treated with lime), where fractions of the kernel are washed away. In some instances, the processed corn has a nutrient profile similar to whole grain corn. When this corn ingredient is used in making corn masa dough for products such as tortilla chips, taco shells, and tamales, it may be acceptable as a whole-grain ingredient. These corn products, using corn treated with lime, may be used in meeting the WGR criteria provided that the manufacturer meets the requirements for inclusion of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) whole grain health claim and includes the claim on the product carton.

The health claim states, "Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers." Enrichment of corn masa (corn treated with lime) is not required for School Meal Programs when the finished corn product bears the FDA whole grain health claim. If the corn product includes other grain ingredients, such as flour, these ingredients must be whole or enriched to meet the WGR requirements. Grain products that are made from 100 percent whole grain corn continue to meet the WGR criteria and can be served in the School Meal Programs.


For additional information on WGR criteria, refer to the new meal pattern grain requirements, MB USDA-SNP-28-2012 entitled Grain Requirements for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. You can view this MB on the California Department of Education School Nutrition Programs Management Bulletins Web page at

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this MB, please contact Lori Porter, Child Nutrition Consultant (CNC), Southern School Nutrition Programs (SNP) Unit, by e-mail at or by phone at 916-322-1454, or Ashley Osterman, CNC, Northern SNP Unit, by e-mail at or by phone at 916-445-1261.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, February 16, 2017
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