New York City Moves to Phase Out Processed Meat in Meals and Snacks Served by City Agencies and their Contractors

By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD

The city of New York has developed new standards for meals and snacks meals and snacks served by 11 city agencies. These standards, which go into effect July 1, 2023 will regulate the nutritional content and type of food served to schoolchildren, older adults, NYC Health + Hospitals patients, and others who get meals or snacks from city agencies.

The standards emphasize reducing sodium, added sugar, and saturated fat and increasing fiber. They call for a reduced use of red and processed meat and cheese and greater use of whole or minimally-processed plant protein. The standards include:

  • A requirement that processed meat (for example, deli meat or ham) be phased out by 2025.
  • A requirement, for sites serving three meals per day, that no more than 2 servings of beef be served per week and for sites serving one to two meals per day, no more than 1 serving of beef be served per week per meal type.
  • A requirement, for sites serving three meals per day, that no more than 1 serving of processed meat be served per week per meal type and for sites serving one to two meals per day, that no more than 2 servings of processed meat be served per month (or no more than one serving every other week) per meal type.
  • A requirement that at least 1 serving of plant-based entrées featuring a whole or minimally processed plant-based protein (for example, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, edamame or tofu) be served per week per meal type (except breakfast).
  • A recommendation that 2 servings of plant-based entrées be served per week per meal type.
  • A recommendation that cheese be served as a primary protein no more than once a week per meal type.
  • A recommendation that seasonal and locally sourced foods be the focus when developing menus.

You can see the complete standards here. The standards are a starting place for moving towards healthier diets. Hopefully, other communities will be inspired to create their own standards that emphasize whole plant foods.