The Department of Agriculture wants the public to comment on new guidelines being set for the sugar content of cereals used in the Women, Infants, and Children supplemental feeding program (WIC).

The program is for infants and children up to 5 years and for pregnant and nursing mothers whose poor diets are found to be nutritionally without supplementary foods. WIC now serves 886, 000 women and children.

Infants in the WIC program get iron-fortified formular and cereal, and fruit joice high in Vitamin C. Children over 1 year old and women receive fortified milk, cheese, eggs, cereal high in iron, and fruit or vegetable juice high in Vitamin C.

For several years nutritionists have argued over the advisability of using highly sugared cereals in the program. Several Maryland nutritionists and dietitians have proposed setting the following guidelines for the cereals in the WIC program:

Removal of cereals which contain more than 15 to 20 per cent sugar.

Inclusion of some cereals which are 100 per cent whole grain whether or not they meet the current standards for iron content.

Exclusion of cereals which supply 100 per cent of the Recommended Daily Allowance for any nutrient.

Removal of cereals containing artificial colors and flavorings.

Public comment on WIC cereals may be sent until Oct. 10 to: Director, Special Supplemental Food Division (WIC), Food and Nutrition Service, Dept of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250.

The majority of USDA's advisory panel on nitrites has recommended that the use of sodium-nitrite in products that form their own cancer-causing nitrosamines be discontinued sometimes within the next three years.

The panel made this recommendation despite a warning from USDA that it could not permit the continued use of nitrites for as long as three years if their use created a carcinogen. Nitrites color, flavor and preserve processed meats.

Nitrites combine with amines, found in other foods, drugs and tobacco smoke to form nitrosamines in the stomachs of test animals. But nitrosamaines form in bacon when it is fried.