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Competitive Foods-Determining Compliant Beverages


Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program Sponsors

Attention: Food Service Directors

Number: SNP-08-2019

Date: April 2019

Reference: California Education Code (EC) sections 49430 and 49431.5; California Code of Regulations, Title 5 (5 CCR), Section 15576; Title 7, Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR), sections 210.11(m) and 220.12

Supersedes: SNP-27-2014: Competitive Foods and Beverages—Determining Compliant Beverages

Subject: Competitive Foods and Beverages—Determining Compliant Beverages


This management bulletin (MB) provides updated information from the California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division on competitive beverage requirements and determining compliant beverages and supersedes MB
SNP-27-2014. This revised MB includes information about a new compliant beverage category for high schools called Flavored Water and explains that caffeine is not allowable in any competitive beverages (trace amounts are allowable) at any grade level.

Code of Federal Regulations—Competitive Beverage Requirements and Definitions
  • Competitive foods: All food and beverages sold to students on school campus, during the school day, and outside the reimbursable meal program (7 CFR, Section 210.11[a][2])
  • School campus: All areas of the property under the jurisdiction of the school that are accessible to students during the school day (7 CFR, Section 210.11[a][4])
  • School day: The period of time from the midnight before to 30 minutes after the end of the official school day (7 CFR, Section 210.11[a][5])

Per sections 210.11(b) and 220.12 of 7 CFR, state agencies and school food authorities may impose additional restrictions on the sale of and income from competitive foods, provided they are not inconsistent with federal requirements.

In addition to the federal rules, California enacted EC sections 49430–49431.7, and 5 CCR, sections 15575–15578, to govern the sale of competitive foods and beverages. More recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture amended national competitive food and beverage requirements through 7 CFR, Section 210.11.

These state and federal rules contain restrictions that apply to all foods and beverages sold to students on school campus, during the school day, and outside of the federally reimbursable meal program.

Allowable Beverage Categories

EC Section 49431.5, and 7 CFR, Section 210.11(m), describe the categories of allowable competitive beverages that can be sold to students on school campus. The categories are as follows:

  • Milk (all grade levels)
  • Nondairy milk (e.g., soy, almond, rice milks, or other similar nondairy milks) (all grade levels)
  • Water (all grade levels)
  • Fruit or vegetable juice (all grade levels)
  • Electrolyte replacement beverages (ERB) (high school only)
  • Flavored water (high school only)
Criteria for Each Allowable Beverage Category

EC Section 49431.5; 5 CCR, Section 15576; and 7 CFR, Section 210.11(m) provide criteria for each beverage type as listed below:

Milk: 1 percent (unflavored only) or nonfat (flavored or unflavored); at least 25 percent of the Daily Value for calcium; added Vitamins A and D; no more than 28 grams (g) of sugar per 8 fluid ounces (fl oz); no added caffeine (trace amounts allowable); and a serving size limit of 8 fl oz in elementary schools or 12 fl oz in middle and high schools

Nondairy milk: Must be nutritionally equivalent to milk according to 7 CFR, Section 210.10(d)(3); no more than 28 g of sugar per 8 fl oz; no more than 5 g of fat per 8 fl oz; no added caffeine; and a serving size limit of 8 fl oz in elementary schools or 12 fl oz in middle and high schools

Water: Plain (meaning no added sweeteners*, flavorings, etc.); no added caffeine; no serving size limit

Fruit or vegetable juice: Must be at least 50 percent juice; no added sweeteners*; no added caffeine; serving size limit of 8 fl oz in elementary schools or 12 fl oz in middle and high schools

ERB (high school only): Water as the first ingredient; no more than 16.8 g of added sweetener* per 8 fl oz; 10 to 150 milligrams (mg) of sodium per 8 fl oz; 10 to 90 mg of potassium per 8 fl oz; no added caffeine; no more than 5 calories per 8 fl oz with a serving size limit of 20 fl oz, or no more than 40 calories per 8 fl oz with a serving size limit of 12 fl oz.

Flavored water (high school only): No added sweetener*; no added caffeine; no more than 5 calories per 8 fl oz with a serving size limit of 20 fl oz, or no more than 40 calories per 8 fl oz with a serving size limit of 12 fl oz.

*Added sweetener means an additive other than 100 percent fruit juice that enhances the sweetness of a beverage (EC Section 49430[e]).

Compliant Beverages in California

Based on federal and California rules governing compliant beverages, the CDE considers water, milk, juice, no- and low-calorie ERBs, and no- and low-calorie flavored water the only allowable competitive beverage categories. The CDE does not allow the sale of any other beverage category to students on the school campus, during the school day, and outside of the federally reimbursable meal program. To ensure compliance with the requirements:

  • The beverage must be marketed or labeled as water, milk, juice, an ERB, or a flavored water. A beverage marketed and labeled as a “sports drink” can be considered an ERB. Conversely, if a beverage is not marketed as milk, water, juice, ERB, or flavored water, it is not compliant (e.g., coffee, tea, soda, etc.).

  • If the beverage is marketed or labeled as one of the allowable beverage categories, it must meet all criteria within its identified category to be deemed compliant and therefore allowable for sale. For example, if a beverage is marketed as a juice, it must meet the criteria under the juice category—at least 50 percent juice with no added sweetener and limit the serving size for the appropriate grade level.

A beverage marketed or labeled as one of the allowable categories may contain tea or coffee and still meet the allowable category. For example, a beverage labeled as an ERB that also contains tea as an ingredient can be considered an ERB. This beverage must meet the ERB criteria to be compliant and allowable for sale. Conversely, a beverage labeled as tea (or coffee, or soda, etc.) is noncompliant, even though it may meet the ERB criteria, because it is not marketed or labeled as one of the allowable competitive beverage categories.

Summary

Only those foods and beverages that comply with state and federal competitive food and beverage requirements are allowed to be sold to a student on school campus, during the school day, and outside of the federally reimbursable meal program.

  • A compliant competitive beverage must be marketed or labeled as one of the allowable categories—milk, nondairy milk, water, juice, ERB/sports drink, or flavored water.

  • The competitive beverage must meet all criteria within its category for it to be compliant and allowed for sale to students on the school campus, during the school day, and outside of the federally reimbursable meal program.

  • A competitive beverage that meets the category and ingredient criteria may have additional ingredients (tea, coffee, etc.) and still be compliant.

For additional information please visit the CDE Competitive Foods and Beverages web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/he/compfoods.asp.

Please forward this MB to all individuals and groups within your school community that are directly affected by this change or may benefit from this information.

If you have any questions regarding this MB, please contact the Competitive Foods and Beverages team by email at competitivefoods@cde.ca.gov.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, July 15, 2020
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