Massachusetts Nutrition Evaluation Tool for Schools: Instructions

Massachusetts Nutrition Evaluation Tool for Schools: Instructions

Follow these steps to assure proper and accurate use of the MassNETS tool in determining if a product meets the Massachusetts School Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages and USDA Smart Snacks in School, whichever is stricter.

1. Select a Product Category

Category is required. The category of food determines the rules, so you cannot continue until you select a category from the drop-down section. Some categories will prompt a checkbox for subcategories.

Nuts/seeds/nut butter?
Only available in the Nuts, Seeds, & Meats category. Nuts, seeds, and nut butters are not restricted in their fat content.

Cheese?
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

2. Enter the Nutrition Information

Nutrition information is required. Use the information below as a guide when entering the nutrition information into the tool.

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. Food and drinks must not exceed 200 Calories.

Calories From Fat
With the exception of lowfat cheese, nuts, seeds, and nut butters, no food or drink may exceed 35% of calories from fat. Calories from fat will calculate automatically after you input the grams of fat into the evaluation tool.

Saturated Fat
Enter grams ofsaturated fat from the Nutrition Facts label. Food and drinks 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 or drink may exceed 200 mg sodium.

Total Carbohydrates
Not required for MassNETS evaluation. Enter the carbohydrate grams from the Nutrition Facts label if you intend to submit this product for approval.

Sugars
Enter grams of sugar from the Nutrition Facts label. Foods must have no more than 35% of total weight from sugar, except for 100% fruits/vegetables with no added sugars, which are exempt from the total weight requirement. Milk must have no more than 22 grams of sugar per 8 fluid ounces.

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.

3. Ensure Ingredients are Compliant

You will be prompted to answer some questions about the product’s ingredients, depending on the category selected in Step 1. See below for additional details on how to answer these questions.

This question applies to all foods and drinks. No food or drink may have artificial sweeteners, non–nutritive sweeteners, nor sugar alcohols. Examples of non–permitted ingredients include, but are not limited to acesulfame K, advantame*, allulose*, aspartame, cyclamate, erythritol, glycerin/glycerol*, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates* (HSH), isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, monk fruit, neotame, saccharin, sorbitol, stevia, sucralose, and xylitol.

*As of January 1, 2022, these ingredients, which are identified as either an artificial sweetener, non-nutritive sweetener or sugar alcohol, have been added to the list of non-permitted ingredients.

This question applies to all foods and drinks. No food may have more than trace amounts of caffeine. Examples of ingredients which indicate caffeine include, but are not limited to, caffeine, coffee, tea, guarana, kola nut, yerba mate. Cocoa and chocolate have small amounts of caffeine and are allowed.

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, you are encouraged to submit the product for formal evaluation and possible inclusion on the AList.

This question only applies to grainbased snacks such as chips, pretzels, crackers, cookies, cereal bars, cereal, muffins, bagels, and pastries. Grainbased snacks are considered to be wholegrain if the first ingredient is a whole grain or the first grain ingredient is a whole grain.

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

If the first ingredient or grain ingredient is not one of the above, it is still considered a wholegrain product if either 50% or more of the total grains in the product are whole or the product contains the following Food and Drug Administrationapproved wholegrain health claim on its packaging: “Diets rich in wholegrain 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.

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 nonfat.

4. See the Results

Once you complete Steps 1 through 3, the tool will identify whether or not theproduct appears to meet Massachusetts School Nutrition Standards criteria.

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 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.

If you are using a recipe, the best thing to do is use a nutrient analysis tool to calculate the values to be input into this tool.

5. Submit the Product for A-list Approval

If your initial evaluation on MassNETS reveals the product is compliant with the regulations and the product is available through the school nutrition program, we would love to add it to the list of verified products on the Alist! Please follow the steps below to submit this product for Alist evaluation.

Note: Products do not need to be on the A-list to be allowable for sale in Massachusetts schools, as long as they satisfy the Massachusetts School Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages and USDA Smart Snacks in School, whichever is stricter.

Click the “Continue to A-list Approval” button to reveal the following input fields:

Manufacturer is required if you wish to submit the product for approval. Please provide the official and complete manufacturer 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.

Either the UPC or Manufacturer Product Code number must be provided if you wish to submit the product for approval.

Note: Specific vendor codes are not acceptable.

Enter your name and email address so the A-list Coordinator can contact you with any questions about the product and with the results of the final evaluation.

When submitting a product for A-list evaluation, you must provide documentation that supports the information you entered into MassNETS. Upload the following documents before submitting the product:

  • A copy of the ingredients list
  • Copy of the official Nutrition Facts label
  • Name(s) of distributor(s) for product

NOTE: In order to submit multiple files, you must select “Choose Files” and select all documents before clicking “Open.”

Click “Submit for Review” to finish your submission.

The submitted product will be evaluated by the A-list Coordinator and you will receive the result of the final evaluation via email.

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