Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has vetoed a bill that would have banned chocolate milk from school lunchrooms across the state.
State lawmakers passed legislation at the end of the session that would have revised the education laws to comply with new federal school lunch standards on sodium, which in turn, would also have eliminated the flavored milk from schools.
The reason is that sodium is added to nonfat chocolate milk to counteract the bitterness from the added cocoa, according to Malloy.
In his veto message, the governor said that he supported much of what was in the bill, but could not support legislation that would ban chocolate milk in schools.
"Ideally, students will choose to drink unflavored nonfat milk," Malloy wrote. "Chocolate milk contains unnecessary calories, sugar, as well as sodium."
But, he took into account the overall nutritional value of calcium in the diets of children during critical years in which children's bones are developing and the liklihood that those who don't like unflavored milk will drink none at all.
To balance things out, Malloy said chocolate milk should stay, but children should be encouraged to drink unflavored milk.
"I am not opposed to individual school districts having the choice to eliminate the sale of chocolate milk in their schools. However, I do not think it is wise policy to mandate statewide," Malloy wrote.
Before Malloy vetoed the legislation, critics warned that banning chocolate milk could change children's lunchtime habits for the worse.
Lonnie Burt, the chief nutritionist of Hartford Public Schools, had concerns about how the legislation would affect children’s nutritional intake because chocolate milk provides calcium, vitamin A, potassium and other nutrients, she said.
The American Heart Association has also said the nutritional value of milk, even flavored milk, outweighs concerns about the amount of sodium in diets.
Malloy pointed out that he would fully support the bill, provided some minor changes are made.
He also said it might "be wise to cap the sodium levels in milk offered in schools. But an outright ban on added sodium is not workable."