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Child Nutrition (CN) Labels Guidelines

What is a CN Label? A product label containing a statement clearly identifying the contribution (portion size, food group) that a purchased food product makes towards meeting the meal pattern requirements. Certain foods require a CN label in order to be claimed for reimbursement on the CACFP as a meat/meat alternate or as a grain/bread - this is true for both childcare homes and childcare centers.

What products require CN labels when claimed as a Meat/Meat Alternate?

  • Chicken Nuggets (to include chicken fries)

  • Commercial Meat Sauces

  • Liverwurst

  • Meat sticks (vienna sausages)

  • Pepperoni

  • Polish Sausage

  • Salami

  • Turkey Bacon

  • Processed (Commercially Purchased) Combination foods to include:

  • Stews, beef-a-roni, chili macaroni, meat stew, pizzas, pot pies, spaghetti sauce with meat, raviolis, Hot Pockets, Spaghettio's, , macaroni & cheese, lasagna, pimento cheese, chicken salad, tuna salad)

Note: Adding extra meat or cheese and stipulating on the menu is an acceptable alternative to a CN label for these products. However...we suggest you avoid these processed items as much as possible and make them homemade where possible. Stipulate homemade on the menu and be sure you have recipes on file.

Note: While hot dogs and bologna do not require CN labels, you must make sure they are 100% meat with no fillers.

What products require CN labels when claimed as a grain?

Breading/batter from commercial fish sticks, breaded meat patties, chicken nuggets, and french toast sticks.

How do you identify a CN Label?

A CN label will always contain the CN logo, which has a distinctive border; a 6-digit product identification number; A USDA/FNS authorization statement; and the month and year of approval. (See example below).

What must I do if I serve one of the items above?

For the sake of simplicity, we recommend you avoid serving these items. If you do serve them, be sure to purchase CN label products only and make sure a copy of the label is available for review. Your monitor will ask for the labels during a site inspection if they observe one of these items being served. Meals will be denied if one of these items is served and the CN label is not available.

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