The Agriculture Department will have to try again if it still wants to eliminate targets in school meals to lower sodium and provide 100% whole grain foods, a federal judge decided April 13.
The department scrapped the targets in a December 2018 rule, but did not give proper warning it planned to do, U.S. District Judge George Hazel said in his opinion. The department’s 2017 interim final rule “at no point” discussed the elimination of the sodium target, the judge said.
Similarly, USDA did not hint it was considering allowing school districts to get exemptions to the 100% whole-grain target. In sum, the final rule was not a “logical outgrowth” of the interim rule.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, one of the plaintiffs in the case decided in federal court in Maryland, said “there is no scientific basis for the Trump administration to reverse the progress schools have been making in reducing sodium and increasing whole grains in school meals. USDA “should update the sodium-reduction targets rather than weaken or remove them,” the group said.
The School Nutrition Association opposed the sodium and whole-grain requirements, citing “student palatability and operational challenges” of school districts. SNA filed an amicus brief supporting USDA in the case.
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