Product Reformulation and Nutritional Improvements After New Competitive Food Standards in Schools

Document Type

Article - Open Access

Publication Title

Public Health Nutrition


The Nutrition Society

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

Objective: In 2012, Massachusetts enacted school competitive food and beverage standards similar to national Smart Snacks. These standards aim to improve the nutritional quality of competitive snacks. It was previously demonstrated that a majority of foods and beverages were compliant with the standards, but it was unknown whether food manufacturers reformulated products in response to the standards. The present study assessed whether products were reformulated after standards were implemented; the availability of reformulated products outside schools; and whether compliance with the standards improved the nutrient composition of competitive snacks.

Design: An observational cohort study documenting all competitive snacks sold before (2012) and after (2013 and 2014) the standards were implemented.

Setting: The sample included thirty-six school districts with both a middle and high school.

Results: After 2012, energy, saturated fat, Na and sugar decreased and fibre increased among all competitive foods. By 2013, 8 % of foods were reformulated, as were an additional 9 % by 2014. Nearly 15 % of reformulated foods were look-alike products that could not be purchased at supermarkets. Energy and Na in beverages decreased after 2012, in part facilitated by smaller package sizes.

Conclusions: Massachusetts’ law was effective in improving the nutritional content of snacks and product reformulation helped schools adhere to the law. This suggests fully implementing Smart Snacks standards may similarly improve the foods available in schools nationally. However, only some healthier reformulated foods were available outside schools.