Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

WIC Food Packages - Regulatory Requirements for WIC-Eligible Foods

Last Modified: 12/03/2013

The following list provides the Federal requirements for WIC-eligible foods. USDA requirements for WIC-eligible foods can be found in 7 CFR Part 246.10. To view the interim Federal regulation on the WIC food requirements go to http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/WICRegulations.pdf  and scroll to 246.10 – Supplemental Foods. WIC State agencies must use these requirements when authorizing foods on the State WIC food list. However, State agencies do not have to authorize all foods that meet WIC-eligibility requirements.

The following WIC foods must also comply with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Standards of Identity: infant formula, exempt infant formula, milks, cheese, fruit and vegetable juices, shell eggs, canned/frozen fruits and vegetables, whole wheat bread, canned fish, and peanut butter. Standards of identity define what a given food product is, its name, and the ingredients that must be used, or may be used in the manufacture of the food. To view the Standards of Identity for these foods, visit the FDA web site at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm          

State agencies are required to authorize container sizes that provide the full maximum monthly allowance of foods without exceeding the maximum. 

WIC-Eligible Foods  

Breakfast Cereal

Infant Cereal

Infant Food Fruits & Vegetables

Infant Food Meat

Infant Formula

Exempt Infant Formula

Milk

Cheese

Tofu

Soy-Based Beverage

Mature Legumes

Peanut Butter

Fruits & Vegetables

Canned Fish

Whole Wheat Bread and Other Whole Grains

Juice

Eggs

Medical Foods

BREAKFAST CEREAL 

Types of Cereal  

  • Ready-to-eat (e.g., corn flakes, bran flakes)
  • Instant and regular hot cereals (e.g., oatmeal, grits, cream of wheat)

Requirements

  • Minimum of 28 milligrams of Iron per 100 grams of dry cereal (e.g., iron = 45% U.S. RDA for adults per 1 ounce dry cereal)
  • Not more than 21.2 grams of sucrose and other sugars per 100 grams of dry cereal (i.e., not more than 6 grams of sucrose and other sugars per 1 ounce dry cereal)
  • At least one half of the total number of breakfast cereals on a State agency’s authorized food list must have whole grain as the primary ingredient by weight and meet FDA labeling requirements for making a health claim as a "whole grain food with moderate fat content," i.e.,
    1. Contain a minimum of 51% whole grains (using dietary fiber as the indicator).
    2. Meet the regulatory definitions for "low saturated fat" at 21 CFR Part 101.62 (≤1 g saturated fat per RACC) and "low cholesterol" (≤20 mg cholesterol per RACC).
    3. Bear quantitative trans fat labeling,
    4. Contain ≤ 6.5 g total fat per RACC and ≤ 0.5 g trans fat per RACC.

(Manufacturers should refer to the full health claim notice at http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/labelingnutrition/ucm073634.htm)

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WHOLE WHEAT BREAD/WHOLE GRAIN BREAD/OTHER WHOLE GRAINS

Types of Whole Wheat Bread/Whole Grain Bread/Other Whole Grains

  • Whole wheat bread, buns and rolls
  • Whole grain bread, buns and rolls
  • Other whole grains, i.e., brown rice, bulgur, oatmeal, and whole-grain barley without added sugars, fats, oils, or salt (e.g., sodium). May be instant-, quick-, or regular-cooking
  • Soft corn or whole wheat tortillas. (Corn tortillas made from ground masa flour (corn flour) using traditional processing methods are allowed. Examples of primary ingredients meeting the WIC-eligibility criteria include: whole corn, corn (masa), whole ground corn, corn masa flour, masa harina, and white corn flour.)

Requirements

  • Whole wheat must be the primary ingredient by weight in all whole wheat bread products. Whole wheat bread, buns and rolls must also conform to FDA standard of identity at 21 CFR Part 136.180.
  • Whole grain must be the primary ingredient by weight in all whole grain bread, buns and rolls and must also meet FDA labeling requirements for making a health claim as a "whole grain food with moderate fat content."

    1. Contain a minimum of 51% whole grains (using dietary fiber as the indicator).
    2. Meet the regulatory definitions for "low saturated fat" at 21 CFR Part 101.62 (< 1 g saturated fat per RACC) and "low cholesterol" (< 20 mg cholesterol per RACC).
    3. Bear quantitative trans fat labeling.
    4. Contain < 6.5 g total fat per RACC and < 0.5 g trans fat per RACC.

(Manufacturers should refer to the full health claim notice at http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/labelingnutrition/ucm073634.htm)

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JUICE (Women and Children)

Types of Juice  

  • Any fruit and/or vegetable juice or juice blends (e.g., orange, grapefruit, apple, grape, pineapple, tomato, cran-apple)
  • Fresh
  • Single-strength
  • From concentrate
  • Frozen
  • Canned
  • Shelf-stable)

Requirements*  

  • 100% unsweetened pasteurized fruit and/or vegetable juice
  • Fruit juice must conform to FDA standard identity at21 CFR Part 146
  • Vegetable juice must conform to FDA standard of identity at 21 CFR Part 156
  • Minimum of 30 milligrams of Vitamin C per 100 milliliters of Juice or 72 milligrams of Vitamin C per 8-fluid ounces (e.g., Vitamin C = 90% U.S. RDA for women per 6 fluid ounces juice)
  • Vegetable juice may be regular or lower in sodium

*Note: At the State agency's option, juice fortified with other nutrients may be allowed.

Not Allowed  

  • Fruit drinks
  • Fruit-flavored ades
  • Sodas
  • Other beverages that are not 100% juice  

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MILK  

Types of Cow’s Milk* 

  • Whole, reduced fat, low-fat, or nonfat
  • Cultured buttermilk
  • Evaporated, Dry: Calcium-fortified milk
  • Lactose-reduced and lactose-free milk
  • Acidified milk
  • Shelf stable
  • Flavored or unflavored

Requirements

  • Must conform to FDA standards of identity at 21 CFR Part 131.110, 21 CFR Part 131.112, 21 CFR Part 131.130 or 21 CFR Part 131.147)
  • Pasteurized
  • 400 International Units of Vitamin D per quart (100 IU per cup)
  • 2000 International Units of Vitamin A per quart (500 IU per cup) (reduced fat, low-fat or nonfat)

*Note: At the State agency’s option, other milks that meet the minimum requirements for authorized cow’s milk may be substituted, e.g., Keifer, Acidophilus. State agencies may also choose to authorize goat’s milk as a substitute for cow’s milk. WIC-authorized goat’s milk must meet the same requirements as cow’s milk.  

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CHEESE

Types of Cheese*

  • Pasteurized Processed American
  • Brick
  • Natural Cheddar
  • Colby
  • Monterey Jack
  • Mozzarella:  part skim or whole
  • Muenster
  • Provolone
  • Swiss  

*Note:  Blends of approved cheeses, e.g., CoJack, are authorized.

Requirements

  • Must conform to FDA standard of identity at 21 CFR Part 133
  • Must be domestic cheese made from 100% pasteurized milk
  • Cheeses that are labeled low, free, reduced, less or light in the nutrients of sodium, fat or cholesterol are allowed.

Not Allowed

  • Cheese foods or spreads
  • Imported cheeses

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TOFU

Requirements

  • Calcium-set tofu prepared with calcium salts (e.g., calcium sulfate).
  • May not contain added fats, sugars, oils or sodium.

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SOY-BASED BEVERAGE

  • Must be fortified to meet the following nutrient levels: 276 mg calcium per cup, 8 g protein per cup, 500 IU vitamin A per cup, 100 IU vitamin D per cup, 24 mg magnesium per cup, 222 mg phosphorus per cup, 349 mg potassium per cup, 0.44 mg riboflavin per cup, and 1.1 mcg vitamin B12 per cup, in accordance with fortification guidelines issued by FDA.
  • May be flavored or unflavored.

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EGGS

Types of Eggs/Requirements

  • Fresh shell Domestic hen’s eggs*: any size, white or brown shells
  • Dried egg mix; must conform to FDA standard of identity at 21 CFR Part 160.105
  • Pasteurized liquid whole eggs; must conform to FDA standard at 21 CFR Part 160.115

*Note: Hard boiled eggs may be issued to homeless participants at the State agency’s discretion.   

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MATURE LEGUMES (Dry Beans and Peas) (Via WIC Food Instrument)

Types of Mature Legumes

Any type of mature dry beans, peas, or lentils in dry-packaged or canned forms. Examples include but are not limited to black beans ("turtle beans"), black-eyed peas (cowpeas of the black-eyed variety, "cow beans"), garbanzo beans (chickpeas), great northern beans, kidney beans, lima beans ("butter beans"), navy beans, pinto beans, soybeans, split peas, and lentils.

Requirements

  • May not contain added sugars*, fats, oils or meat as purchased
  • "Canned" refers to processed food items in cans or other shelf-stable containers, (e.g., jars, pouches).
  • Canned may be regular or lower in sodium content.

*Note: Small amounts of sugar are added to some foods that are naturally sugar-containing during the canning process to prevent stress resulting in membrane rupture (e.g., kidney beans).  This small amount of added sugar is minimal and helps to maintain the quality and structure of the food.  To encourage greater variety in food choices in the WIC food packages, canned legumes that contain a small amount of sugar for processing purposes, such as plain canned kidney beans, are allowed.

Not Allowed

  • Soups
  • Immature varieties of legumes, such as those used in canned green peas, green beans, snap beans, orange beans, and wax beans.
  • Baked beans with meat (e.g., beans and franks).

*Note: Baked beans may be provided for participants with limited cooking facilities. 

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PEANUT BUTTER

Types of Peanut Butter

  • Creamy or chunky, regular or reduced fat, salted or unsalted

Requirements

  • Must conform to FDA standard of identity at 21 CFR Part 164.150

Not Allowed

  • Peanut Spreads
  • Peanut butter with added jelly, marshmallow or other mixtures

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FRUITS and VEGETABLES (Via Cash-Value Vouchers) 

Types/Requirements of Fruits and Vegetables

Note: States must offer WIC-eligible fresh fruits and vegetables; canned, frozen, and/or dried fruits and vegetables are offered at the State agency's option.

  • Any variety of fresh whole or cut fruit without added sugars.
  • Any variety of fresh whole or cut vegetable, except white potatoes, without added sugars, fats, or oils (orange yams and sweet potatoes are allowed)
  • Any variety frozen beans (including frozen beans authorized under the mature beans category) and any other kind of bean not authorized under the mature legume category, e.g., snow peas.
  • Any variety of canned* fruits including applesauce, juice pack or water pack without added sugars, fats, oils, or salt (i.e. sodium)
  • Any variety of frozen fruits without added sugars
  • Any variety of canned* or frozen vegetables except white potatoes (orange yams and sweet potatoes are allowed); without added sugars**, fats, or oils. May be regular or lower in sodium.
  • Any type of dried fruits or dried vegetable without added sugars, fats, oils, or salt (i.e., sodium).  Not authorized for children because of choking hazard.
  • Canned fruit must conform to FDA standard of identity at 21 CFR Part 145
  • Canned vegetables must conform to FDA standard of identity at 21 CFR Part 155

*Note: Canned refers to processed food items in cans or other shelf-stable containers (e.g. jars, pouches).

**Note: Small amounts of sugar are added to some foods that are naturally sugar-containing during the canning process to prevent stress resulting in membrane rupture (i.e. sweet peas).  This small amount of added sugar is minimal and helps to maintain the quality and structure of the food.  To encourage greater variety in food choices in the WIC food packages, canned vegetables that contain a small amount of sugar for processing purposes, such as plain canned sweet peas and corn, are allowed.

Not Allowed

  • White potatoes
  • Catsup or other condiments
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Olives
  • Juices
  • Soups
  • Herbs or spices
  • Edible blossoms and flowers e.g., squash blossoms (broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes are allowed)
  • Creamed or sauced vegetables
  • Vegetable-grain (pasta or rice) mixtures
  • Fruit-nut mixtures; breaded vegetables
  • Fruits and vegetables for purchase on salad bars
  • Peanuts
  • Ornamental and decorative fruits and vegetables such as chili peppers on a string; garlic on a string; gourds; painted pumpkins; fruit baskets and party vegetable trays
  • Items such as blueberry muffins and other baked goods are not authorized
  • Mature legumes (dry beans and peas) and juices are provided as separate food WIC categories and are not authorized under the fruit and vegetable category.
  • Fruit leathers and fruit roll-ups

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CANNED FISH

Types of Canned* Fish

Canned only:

  • Light tuna, as defined by FDA in 21 CFR Part 161.190
  • Salmon, as defined by FDA in 21 CFR Part 161.170
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel (ONLY N. Atlantic Scoumber scombrus, or Chub Pacific Scomber japonicus)

Requirements**

  • May be packed in water or oil.
  • Pack may include bones or skin
  • May be regular or lower in sodium content

*Note: Canned refers to processed food items in cans or other shelf-stable containers, (e.g., jars, pouches).

**Note: At the State agency's option, flavorings such as lemon or herbs are allowable.

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INFANT FOODS

INFANT CEREAL  

Types of Cereal  

  • Any plain, dry infant cereal (e.g., rice, barley, mixed grain)

Requirements 

  • Minimum of 45 milligrams of Iron per 100 grams of dry cereal

Not Allowed 

  • Infant cereal with added infant formula, milk, fruit, or other non-cereal ingredients

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INFANT FOOD FRUITS and VEGETABLES

Types/Requirements of Infant Fruits and Vegetables

  • Any variety of single ingredient commercial infant food fruit without added sugars, starches, or salt (e.g., sodium). Texture may range from strained through diced.
  • Any variety of single ingredient commercial infant food vegetables without added sugars, starches, or salt (e.g., sodium). Texture may range from strained through diced.
  • Combinations of single ingredients (e.g., peas-carrots and apple-banana) are allowed.

Not Allowed

  • Mixtures with cereal or infant food desserts (e.g., peach cobbler)

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INFANT FOOD MEAT

Types/Requirements of Infant Meat

  • Any variety of commercial infant food meat or poultry, as a single major ingredient, with added broth or gravy. Texture may range from pureed through diced.

Not Allowed

  • Added sugars or salt (e.g., sodium).
  • Infant food combinations (e.g., meat and vegetables) or dinners (e.g., spaghetti and meatballs).

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INFANT FORMULA

Types of Infant Formula

  • Concentrated liquid
  • Powdered
  • Ready-to-feed (RTF)

Requirements

  • Complies with the definition in section 201(z) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 321(z)) and meets the requirements for an infant formula under section 412 of the Federal Food, Drug Act (21 U.S.C. 350a) and regulations at 21 CFR Parts 106 and 107.
  • Nutritionally complete infant formula not requiring the addition of any ingredients other than water prior to being served in a liquid state.
  • Be designed for enteral digestion via an oral or tube feeding.
  • Provide at least 10 mg iron per liter (at least 1.8 mg iron/100 kilocalories) at standard dilution.
  • Provide at least 67 kilocalories per 100 milliliters (approximately 20 kilocalories per fluid ounce) at standard dilution.

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EXEMPT INFANT FORMULA

Types of Infant Formula

  • Concentrated liquid
  • Powdered
  • Ready-to-feed (RTF)

Requirements

  • Complies with the definition and requirements for an exempt infant formula in section 412(h) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (21U.S.C. 350a(h)) and regulations at 21 CFR Parts 106 and 107.
  • Be designed for enteral digestion via an oral or tube feeding.
  • Requires medical documentation for issuance.

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WIC-ELIGIBLE MEDICAL FOODS

Types of Medical Foods

  • Concentrated liquid
  • Powdered
  • Ready-to-feed (RTF) or ready-to use (RTU)

Requirements

  • Medical documentation required for issuance
  • Intended for use as an oral feeding; formulas administered through a nasogastric tube may be substituted.
  • Provide a source of calories and one or more nutrients (may be nutritionally complete or incomplete)

Not Allowed

  • Formulas used solely for the purpose of enhancing nutrient intake or managing body weight addressing picky eaters or used for a condition other than a qualifying condition (e.g., vitamin pills, weight control products)
  • Medicines or drugs
  • Hyperalimentation feedings (nourishment administered through a vein)
  • May not be a conventional food
  • Enzymes, herbs, or botanicals
  • Oral rehydration fluids or electrolyte solutions
  • Flavoring or thickening agents
  • Feeding utensils or devices (e.g., feeding tubes, bags, pumps) designed to administer a WIC-eligible formula
  • Sports or breakfast drinks

Breakfast Cereal

Infant Cereal

Infant Food Fruits & Vegetables

Infant Food Meat

Infant Formula

Exempt Infant Formula

Milk

Cheese

Tofu

Soy-Based Beverage

Mature Legumes

Peanut Butter

Fruits & Vegetables

Canned Fish

Whole Wheat Bread and Other Whole Grains

Juice

Eggs

Medical Foods

Maximum monthly allowances of WIC supplemental foods in the new WIC food packages

Questions and Answers regarding the WIC Food Packages

Information for Manufacturers

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