TOMAH, Wisconsin (WXOW) - USA Today reports the cranberry industry is concerned about new nutrition standards the federal government is getting set to propose.
To address childhood obesity in America, the Department of Agriculture is in the process to finalizing guidelines for what can be sold and served in U.S. public schools.
Cranberry producers are worried at sweetened beverages like cranberry juice cocktail could be deemed unhealthy.
The industry points out the fruit is loaded with nutrients and health benefits, but say they have to be sweetened for most people to enjoy the naturally tart berry.
"Cranberries can be sweetened with anything," said Linda Prehn, a cranberry grower in Tomah, Wisconsin, citing apple juice as an example. "But you can't eat ‘em raw. They're tough to eat straight up."
Prehn is chairman of United Cranberry Growers Cooperative, a collective of 85 growers, including some from Wisconsin.
She and other members recently met for a summit in Washington, D.C. They're hoping a bipartisan group of lawmakers from their home states, where cranberries are big business, can help persuade Department of Agriculture officials to make an exception for cranberry products in its nutrition standards for added-sugar products.
"Given the beneficial and scientifically proven health properties of cranberries, we believe there is a need to establish clear standards that recognize cranberries as a part of a healthy diet," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to agriculture officials. "We ask that you consider including a variety of cranberry juice and dried cranberry products in USDA's food nutrition program so that children, seniors and adults served by these programs are not denied benefits unique to cranberries."
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