Combination Food Products

Using Commercial Combination Food Products in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

USDA Policy: A commercially prepared combination food product may be credited to the CACFP menu pattern only if the product's composition is known and documented by the manufacturer. Acceptable forms of documentation include the Child Nutrition (CN) label or a product analysis sheet. (CN labels and product analysis sheets are explained below.) Without documented proof of a product's composition, the food may not be credited to the CACFP menu pattern. This is because the amounts of each menu component (meat, bread, vegetable, etc.) in the product are not specified by the manufacturer.

What is a ''Commercial Combination Food Product?''

A commercial combination food product is any store-bought food that combines two or more menu components in a single food item. For example:

Combination Food Product

This Product Combines. . .

Cheese & Sausage Pizza

Bread (crust) and Meat (cheese, sausage)

Corn dogs

Bread (breading) and Meat (hot dog)

Chicken Nuggets, Tenders

Bread (breading) and Meat (chicken)

Beef Ravioli (frozen)

Bread (pasta) and Meat (beef filling)

Vegetable Beef Stew

Vegetable (vegetables) and Meat (beef)

Fish Sticks, Fillets

Bread (breading) and Meat (fish)

These are just a few common examples of commercial combination foods. There are many more.

What your sponsoring agency will do:

  • Provide you with information about this policy and answer any questions you have.

  • Monitor your compliance with this policy at home visits.

What you need to do:

For any commercial, combination food product you serve at a CACFP meal or snack, make sure you have acceptable documentation (CN label from package, or product analysis sheet from manufacturer) if that specific product is not on the approved list.

CN Labels

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers the Child Nutrition (CN) labeling program for food companies. The CN label states a product's contribution toward the CACFP meal pattern requirements. CN labeled products, such as pizza and breaded meat and poultry products, are usually packaged in bulk quantities for food service operations. They are seldom available in typical food stores.

The CN label includes:

  • statement of the product's contribution toward meal pattern requirements

  • 6-digit product identification number

  • statement specifying that the use of the CN label was authorized by FNS

  • month and year of approval

A CN label on a product does not mean that the food provides an entire serving of a meal component. When using CN-labeled products, be sure to meet CACFP portion requirements.

Product Analysis Sheets

Some food manufacturers who do not participate in the CN labeling program may still be able to provide analysis sheets that specify the composition of their products. A combination food may be credited when a product analysis sheet is on file. It must include a statement of the amount of cooked lean meat/meat alternate, bread/bread alternate, and/or fruit/vegetable components in each serving of the food. This sheet must be signed by an official of the manufacturer (not a salesperson).

Important Reminder: A commercial combination food product that is not on the approved list, and for which a CN label or product analysis sheet has not been obtained, may not be credited toward the CACFP menu pattern. It is non-creditable. Supplementing such a product with additional food (meat/meat alternate, bread/bread alternate, or fruit/vegetable) does not make it creditable. The unapproved product may be served only as an ''additional food,'' with all menu requirements being met by creditable foods.

Questions?

Your food program sponsor is committed to helping you understand this policy. Do not hesitate to contact them with your questions.

For more information