WIC Package Final Rule Excludes Peanut Butter for Infants

baby being fed peanut butterApr 23, 2024

On April 9, USDA announced the Final Rule on Revisions in the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Food Packages. Despite the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans published in 2020 that specifically state, “Introducing peanut-containing foods in the first year reduces the risk that an infant will develop a food allergy to peanuts,” peanut foods have not been included in the infant food package for ages 6-11 months.

“This is a setback for allergy prevention because the science is well supported and lower-income children are particularly vulnerable to food allergies,” said NPB Chairman and Arkansas grower Greg Baltz.

Research shows that high-risk infants – those with severe eczema, an egg allergy or both – need to start peanut foods as early as 4 to 6 months and continue at least three times per week as they grow. The researchers behind the LEAP Study are even more convinced today the window for prevention is short and closes early, meaning waiting is not an option. Of the 3.66 million live births in the US every year, 1.8 million babies are eligible for the WIC program (Source).

Read this Associated Press story about the package with statements from Drs. Gideon Lack and Ruchi Gupta.

“As a new mom myself, I understand how challenging it is to navigate life with a newborn,” said National Peanut Board Georgia Member Casey Cox Kerr. “Even more challenging is parents having to manage a food allergy that may have been prevented. It’s more important than ever that we make early introduction accessible for all families.”

This is why NPB pushes forward and believes there is opportunity to help prevent peanut allergies. NPB has scheduled a meeting with USDA-FNS to determine ways to still reach this important WIC audience.

Moreover, NPB continues to align with partners to engage and educate local WIC offices and staff nutrition consultants so they can champion early introduction among WIC participants. We ask for your continued support to spread awareness by promoting the following resources for WIC staff and families:

  • PreventPeanutAllergies.org and FoodAllergyPrevention.org have resources and information for parents and clinicians alike – including background on the science, guidance on how and when to introduce, videos, frequently asked questions, videos and more.
  • FAMP-IT.org is a decision tool created by experts at MassGeneral Hospital for Children to help WIC nutritionists and other clinicians talk about early peanut introduction with parents and give them support they need.
  • FARE created and has made available a food allergy curriculum that local WIC offices can take advantage of to help WIC staff educate parents and caregivers.

The first farmers on the National Peanut Board made being part of the peanut allergy solution a priority almost 25 years ago, and it’s a commitment we will see through until it is no longer an issue.

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