Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Congressman Mike Simpson are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to recognize Greek yogurt under their MyPlate nutrition guidelines. In a letter to Secretary Vilsack, they point out that Greek yogurt has twice the protein and more calcium than regular yogurt, and is low in fat.
Besides recognizing Greek yogurt in MyPlate nutrition guides, which is part of the USDA food guidance system, the group also requested a pilot program be set up within the Children Nutrition programs to allow schools to receive credit for protein content when serving Greek yogurt.
“We urge the USDA to update the agency’s nutrition guides to reflect the many benefits of Greek yogurt. Not only is it a great source of calcium, a serving of Greek yogurt has more protein than the same amount of beans. By allowing schools in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs to get credit for serving Greek yogurt, kids receive a healthy product and it is a positive economic impact for Idaho,” said the three members of Idaho’s congressional delegation.
In December of 2012, Chobani Yogurt opened the largest Greek yogurt processing plant in the world in Twin Falls. The new plant currently employs 300 workers with all of the milk for the yogurt production coming from Idaho dairy farms. At full capacity, the Chobani plant in Idaho will produce 4.2 million cases of yogurt per week.
“The new Chobani plant is a big economic boost to the Twin Falls region and to the state. As federally elected officials, we believe it is our duty to ask the USDA to add Greek yogurt, based on its great nutritional benefits. The other big benefit is increasing jobs at the plant and on Idaho dairy farms as Greek yogurt becomes even more popular in the country,” the Idaho members added.
Joining the three members of Idaho’s delegation in signing the letter are Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY). Chobani’s first plant operates in New Berlin, New York.
Recent Updates –
Additional information from
Colleen Fillmore, PhD, RD, LD, SNS , USDA Idaho Child Nutrition Director, Idaho Department of Education
There are several things going on in the USDA programs right now and Greek Yogurt is just one of those. In some cases USDA has made some revisions (caps on grains and proteins) and sometimes they have not budged.
In a conference call this week with USDA we were told that USDA is looking at a Greek yogurt pilot program. They asked for states that were willing to be a pilot state and we put Idaho’s name in. We have done pilots very successfully in the past for USDA so we are hoping we would be allowed to be a pilot for this. With this pilot we were not told if the Greek Yogurt would be credited different from non-Greek Yogurt. We will have to wait for guidance from USDA on this.
Eatright Idaho comment
MyPlate food guidance distinguishes between “protein foods” such as meat, poultry, fish, and beans and “dairy foods” such as milk and yogurt (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/dairy.html). Food groups were renamed with the introduction of MyPlate in 2011.