The John C. Stalker Institute
of Food and Nutrition

at Framingham State University

Massachusetts Nutrition Evaluation Tool for Schools: Instructions

The JSI Massachusetts Nutrition Evaluation Tool for Schools, MassNETS, lets users enter data from the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list from foods and beverages to help determine if they satisfy the Massachusetts School Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages and USDA Smart Snacks in School. Follow these instructions to assure proper and accurate use:

  1. Identify the product.
    Category is required. The category of food determines the rules, so you cannot continue until you select a category from the drop-down selection. Some categories will display a selection of subcategories.
    Note concerning the "Yogurt, Frozen Yogurt" category. Frozen yogurts must meet the FDA's standard of identity for low-fat or non-fat yogurt.
    Some categories may provide the following subcategory options:
    Nuts/seeds/nut butter?
    Only available in the Nuts, Seeds, & Meats category. Nuts, seeds, and nut butters are not restricted in their fat content.
    Only available in the Cheese & Pudding category. Cheese must be reduced fat, but is not subject to the 10% from saturated fat or 35% from total fat restriction
    Is the first ingredient potato?
    Only available in the Chips and Pretzels category. Check if the first ingredient is potato. If the first ingredient is potato, the product is not expected to be a whole grain product.
    100% Fruit/Vegetable?
    Only available in the Fruit and Vegetables categories. Check if the product is 100% fruit/vegetable. If it is, with no added sugar, the sugar content need not be checked. Otherwise, if it has additional ingredients, the fruit/vegetable snack is subject to a limit on the amount of sugar.
    Manufacturer is required if you wish to submit the product for approval. When you start typing in the name of a manufacturer, matches will be displayed. If you see the manufacturer, click to select that manufacturer name.
    Product Name
    The name of the product is required if you wish to submit the product for approval. Be specific. For example, include the flavor in the name selection. See the A-List for similar examples.
  2. Enter the nutrition information ...
    Serving Size
    You may enter the serving size in either grams or ounces (whichever you prefer). When you enter one, the other will be calculated. Both values are used in several calculations.
    Enter the Calories according to the Nutrition Facts label. Snack foods must not exceed 200 Calories and entrée items may not exceed 350 Calories.
    Calories from fat
    You may enter Calories from fat according to the Nutrition Facts label, or you may enter grams of fat and let the evaluation tool calculate Calories from fat. With the exception of low‑fat cheese, nuts, seeds, and nut butters, no food may exceed 35% of Calories from fat. The calculated percent of Calories will be displayed just above Calories from fat.
    Fat grams
    This is not required. However, you may enter grams of fat instead of Calories from fat. If used, Calories from fat and percent of Calories from fat will be calculated to test if the product is below 35% of Calories from fat.
    Saturated Fat
    Enter grams of saturated fat from the Nutrition Facts label. Foods must have less than 10% of Calories from saturated fat.
    Trans Fat
    Enter grams of trans fat from the Nutrition Facts label. Food and drinks must be trans fat free.
    Enter milligrams (mg) of sodium from the Nutrition Facts label. No food may exceed 200 mg sodium except for entrees which may have up to 480 mg.
    Total Carbohydrate
    Not required. Enter the carbohydrate grams from the Nutrition Facts label if you intend to submit this product for approval.
    Enter grams of sugar from the Nutrition Facts label. Most foods may have no more than 35% of Calories except for fruit and vegetables which must have no added sugar. Milk must have no more than 22 grams sugar per 8 fluid ounces.
    Calcium and Vitamin D
    If the product is a milk/milk alternative, it must meet the standard for these two nutrients. Enter the percent Daily Value from the Nutrition Facts label.

    ...and answer some questions about the ingredients.

    Are there any artificial sweeteners?
    This question applies to all foods and drinks. No food or drink may have artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners include aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, acesulfame K, isomalt, neotame, cyclamate, erythritol, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol.
    Does the product contain caffeine?
    This question applies to all foods and drinks. No food may have more than trace amounts of caffeine. Examples of ingredients which indicate caffeine: caffeine, coffee, tea, guarana, kola nut, yerba mate. Cocoa and chocolate have small amounts of caffeine and are allowed.
    Is product 100% juice product?
    This question only applies when the Juice category is chosen. All juice, including frozen juice, must be 100% juice or contain only juice and water.

    Note: If a juice product is 100% juice, the product is limited to 8 fluid ounces. However, a beverage that is juice plus water may exceed 8 fluid ounces and comply with the standards, if the amount of juice in the container does not exceed 8 fluid ounces. Because it is impossible to make that determination from a food label, this evaluation tool cannot help with that situation. However, you are encouraged to submit the product to JSI for evaulation and possible inclusion on the A-List.
    Is first grain ingredient whole grain?
    This question only applies to grain-based snacks such as muffins, chips, and pretzels. Grain-based snacks are considered to be whole-grain if the first ingredient is a whole grain or the first grain ingredient is a whole grain.

    Whole grains include: whole wheat flour, wheat berries, brown rice, oats/oatmeal, whole corn/whole cornmeal, barley (not pearled), popcorn, bulgur, millet, quinoa, whole rye, amaranth, buckwheat, sorghum, teff, triticale, whole spelt, wild rice.

    If the first ingredient or grain ingredient is not one of the above, it is still considered a whole-grain product if either 50% or more of the total grains in the product are whole or the product contains the following Food and Drug Administration-approved whole-grain health claim on its packaging: "Diets rich in whole-grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers". If you have a product where the first ingredient or grain ingredient is not a whole-grain, but at least one ingredient is whole grain please submit the product to JSI for further evaluation.
    Is this beverage flavored?
    This question only applies when the Water or Milk category is chosen. If water is flavored, it may only be served at the high school level. If milk is flavored, it must be non-fat.
  3. See the results.

    The results area lists the Massachusetts school nutrition standards for the category. Under each rule, you will see one of:

    • ? Information Missing
    • × Failed
    • √ Passed

    For ? Information Missing, supply the information. If you aren't sure what is missing, move your mouse over the rule and the place to enter missing information will be highlighted.

    If the product entered passes all the tests, we want to hear about it. Then we can add it to the list of verified products. Please supply the manufacturer name, and product name, then click the "Submit for Approval" button. We will also need to receive a copy of the ingredients list, Nutrition Facts label, and information (if available) about product distributors for verification.

    If you wish to print the results, you should do so before clicking the "Submit" button. Your browser may not save the values you filled into the form.

What do I do if I am using a recipe, or combining multiple ingredients?
If you are using a recipe, the best thing to do is use a recipe analysis tool to calculate the values to be input into this tool.

If you have any difficulties using the tool or see any cases where the rules appear to be incorrectly interpreted, please contact jsi.