Navy Fried

FACT CHECK:   Did Michelle Obama ban the Navy from serving fried foods?

Claim:   Michelle Obama instituted a new rule that prohibits the Navy from serving fried foods.

   FALSE

Example:     [Collected via e-mail, July 2015]

Just read that Michelle Obama has taken food away from members of the military services. Is this true?

Origins:    On 12 July 2015 the Navy Times reported that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus had announced a new food initiative for that branch of the armed services which would be “the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.” Among the changes reported by Mabus was a new menu for sailors that lacks fried foods such as breaded chicken and french fries, has more fruits and vegetables, and replaces whole milk with skim and soy:

You can say goodbye to the fried foods you have come to know and love; breaded chicken, French fries, and the like will be baked in state-of-the-art ovens rather than deep fried. Whole milk will be replaced by skim and soy; fruits and vegetables will be on prominent display. The fast line will remain, but its offerings will be cut back.

And this is just the beginning.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced a host of sweeping changes in May that will affect everything from promotions and training to uniforms and fitness. As part of that, he has set his sights on a well-balanced diet, which he calls “the foundation of a healthy lifestyle” that will provide capable warfighters and lower medical costs.

Mabus touted the SEALs’ “Fuel to Fight” program as an example. It increases the availability of lean-proteins, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates to fuel, rather than feed, the warfighter. Other galleys here have implemented “Go for Green,” a Department of Defense nutrition program that teaches sailors to recognize and select healthier foods.

Although it is true that the Navy has announced they are eschewing fried foods and adding healthier options to their galley menus, these dietary changes are not completely new to mid-2015. The Navy Nutrition Program teamed up with the Department of Defense (DoD) Combat Feeding Research and Development Center and the Culinary Institute of America in 2013 to improve the Navy’s menu, and while the “Go for Green” program started as an education program, several galleys in the Navy have already adopted its “stoplight system” and altered their menus to include healthier options:

Part of Operation Live Well (OLW) includes the Go for Green® program, which utilizes a stop light system that clearly identifies foods high in nutritional quality to enhance performance and mood and help manage body weight. The Go for Green® program also helps to debunk the common myth that healthy food lacks taste. The recipes are currently in the final stages of development and are expected to roll out by 2015.

Making the healthy choice is the first step in eating for wellness and fueling the body for optimal performance. The goal of Go For Green® is to increase awareness of differences in the quality of food and empower diners to make informed decisions about the foods they choose. This program supports a greater Navy effort to transform the food environment to facilitate and maintain healthier food and beverage options. Food service managers are charged with implementing this system DoD-wide and as a result we will see improved menu options on the main serving lines in dining facilities around the world in the coming years.

In regards to the claim made above, although first Lady Michelle Obama has been a leading voice in promoting healthier eating to combat obesity, she was not mentioned in the Navy Times article or the “Go for Green” press release. Nonetheless, several people still took to Facebook to blame the First Lady for the announced changes to Navy food servings:

On 15 July 2015, the Conservative Tribune capitalized on this erroneous claim by publishing an article with the misleading title “Michelle Takes Food from U.S. Navy, Sailors Immediately Unleash THIS Response” — an article that provided no proof that Michelle Obama was responsible for the Navy’s menu changes and merely speculated that she “may have” suggested some healthier food choices.

The First Lady, however, is not in charge of setting nutritional policies for the U.S. armed forces.

Last updated:      15 July 2015

Originally published:    13 July 2015