Statement of CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, and health care referrals to over 6 million women, infants, and children who are at nutritional risk. The revisions announced today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will strengthen WIC food packages to better align with the science-based recommendations of the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.  

Importantly, the USDA finalized increases to the amount of fruit and vegetables for child, pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum participants and allows more fruits and vegetables to be purchased in place of juice. The revisions now permit only unflavored milk to be purchased, limit juice allowances, establish added sugars limits for yogurts, plant-based alternatives, and breakfast cereal, and add access to canned fish to some packages. The final rule also includes important flexibilities to honor cultural or religious food preferences (such as vegan and vegetarian diets) and supports individuals with food sensitivities or allergies.  

The rule falls short of full alignment with the DGA with respect to whole grains; USDA proposed to require that all breakfast cereals meet whole grain criteria (contain a whole grain as the first ingredient) but the final rule requires that only 75 percent meet the criteria.  

These revisions will help millions of women, infants, and children participating in the program get the nutrition they need while maintaining participant choice and considering barriers such as limited cooking facilities, storage, and transportation. We applaud USDA for prioritizing evidence-based updates that promote good health. 

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