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Meal Pattern Minute: Beef Jerky Sticks

March 24, 2023

Beef jerky sticks are a shelf-stable and portable meat/meat alternate and a good protein source. You may be thinking of serving this in the Child and Adult Care Food Program meal pattern, but you can’t find this product on the Food Buying Guide!  If you can’t find it in the Food Buying Guide, is it even creditable in the CACFP as a meat/meat alternate?  

Well, it only takes a minute to find out! Listen to our nutrition education specialist, Isabel Ramos-Lebron, MS, RDN, LD, to learn more on beef jerky sticks and how they may or may not be creditable in the CACFP.


After you've watched the video, here are some more sources to learn about serving beef jerky sticks in the CACFP:

  • Crediting Shelf-Stable, Dried and Semi-Dried Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Products in the Child Nutrition Programs
    • Dried meat, poultry, or seafood products are not included in the Food Buying Guide for CNPs because industry production standards for these products vary widely. Product Formulation Statements (PFSs) or products labeled under the CN Labeling Program are the two acceptable formats for documenting meal contributions from dried meat, poultry, and seafood products.
    • When a PFS is provided for a dried meat product, it should be evaluated to ensure the following crediting principles are followed:
      • The creditable meat ingredient listed on the PFS must match or have a similar description as the ingredient listed on the product label (e.g., Ground Beef, Not More Than 30% Fat or Beef Round Roast);
      • The creditable meat ingredient listed on the PFS must have a similar description to a food item in the Food Buying Guide for CNPs; and
      • The creditable amount cannot exceed the finished weight of the product.
  • Meat/Meat Alternate Section of the Crediting Handbook for the CACFP
    • Beef jerky is creditable toward the meats/meat alternates component if it is (1) CN labeled or (2) has a Product Formulation Statement (PFS). The PFS should identify the type of beef or pork used to make the product as listed in the Food Buying Guide. For example, “ground beef (not more than 30 percent fat).” Please note beef jerky may be a choking hazard for some populations. 

Finally, check out this free webinar for more information on dried meat products: Moving Forward: Update on Food Crediting in CNPs with Guidance for Dried Meat Products

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