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Added Sugars

Resource type
Technical Assistance & Guidance
added sugars provision

The Dietary Guidelines show that children are consuming too many added sugars. Additionally, USDA heard concerns from parents, teachers, health professionals, and other stakeholders about the amount of added sugars in school meals, particularly in breakfasts.  

To limit added sugars in a practical way, USDA is proposing a phased approach.  

  • First, the rule proposes limiting added sugars in certain products beginning in fall 2025, targeting the most common sources of added sugars in school meals: breakfast cereals, flavored milks, grain-based desserts, and yogurt.  
  • Then, in fall 2027, the rule proposes limiting overall added sugars across the weekly menu to less than 10% of calories per meal, on average, to better align meals with the dietary guidelines.  

USDA expects implementing product-based limits first would help schools be better prepared to meet the proposed weekly limit two years later.   

What are the current requirements for added sugars?

Currently, there is no limit on added sugars in the school meal programs.

What are the proposed requirements for added sugars?

This rule proposes a two-phase approach for limiting added sugars in the school lunch and breakfast programs.  

  1. Product-based limits: Beginning in school year (SY) 2025-26, the rule proposes limits on products that are the leading sources of added sugars in school meals:  
    1. Grain-based desserts (cereal bars, doughnuts, sweet rolls, toaster pastries, coffee cakes, and fruit turnovers) would be limited to no more than 2 ounce equivalents per week in school breakfast, consistent with the current limit for school lunch.  
    2. Breakfast cereals would be limited to no more than 6 grams of added sugars per dry ounce. This would apply to CACFP as well, replacing the current total sugars limit. 
    3. Yogurts would be limited to no more than 12 grams of added sugars per 6 ounces.  
    4. Flavored milks would be limited to no more than 10 grams of added sugars per 8 fluid ounces for milk served with school lunch or breakfast. For flavored milk sold outside of the meal (as a competitive beverage for middle and high school students), the limit would be 15 grams of added sugars per 12 fluid ounces.  
  2. Overall weekly limit: Beginning in SY 2027-28, this rule proposes limiting added sugars to an average of less than 10% of calories per meal, for both school breakfasts and lunches. This weekly limit would be in addition to the product-based limits described above.  
Why is USDA proposing these changes?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugars to less than 10% of calories daily, yet school breakfasts currently provide about 17% of calories from added sugars and school lunches currently provide 11% (Added Sugars in School Meals and Competitive Foods Report to Congress). Further, the Dietary Guidelines found that about 70 - 80% of school-aged children currently exceed the recommended limit for added sugars. USDA also received extensive feedback from stakeholders, including more than 4,000 public comments on the current standards, expressing concern about added sugars in school meals.  

The product-based limits apply to leading contributors to added sugars in school meals that are popular among children and have room to reduce added sugars while maintaining palatability. USDA expects that the product-based limits in this proposed rule will incentivize the school food industry to develop products with less added sugars and help schools be better prepared for the subsequent weekly limit two years later. The overall weekly limit aligns with the Dietary Guidelines’ recommendation. 

Questions for Public Comment

USDA is specifically seeking feedback on the following topics related to added sugars: 

  • USDA is proposing product-specific limits on the following foods to improve the nutritional quality of meals served to children: grain-based desserts, breakfast cereals, yogurt, and flavored milk. Do stakeholders have input on the products and specific limits included in this proposal? 

  • Do the proposed implementation timeframes provide adequate lead time for food manufacturers and schools to successfully implement the new added sugars standards? Why or why not? 

  • What impact will the proposed added sugars standards have on school meal menu planning and the foods schools serve at breakfast and lunch, including the overall nutrition of meals served to children?

How do I submit comments?

USDA invites interested persons to submit written comments on the provisions of this proposed rule between Feb. 7, 2023 through May 10, 2023. Comments related to this proposed rule may be submitted in writing by following the instructions outlined in the Federal Register Notice.

All written comments submitted in response to this proposed rule will be included in the record and will be made available to the public. Please be advised that the substance of the comments and the identity of the individuals or entities submitting the comments will be subject to public disclosure. FNS will make the written comments publicly available on the Internet via

Page updated: March 29, 2023