US wants to class pizza sauce as a vegetable

The US is often criticised for the amount of junk food it eats, but the news that it is now seriously considering officially classing pizza sauce as a vegetable is a new level of craziness.

Following a push from the frozen food industry in the country, where obesity rates are continually climbing, the government is reconsidering a move to restrict pizza, hot chips and starchy vegetables from school cafeterias.

In an annual spending bill covering the US Department of Agriculture, which handles subsidised school meals, a joint House-Senate panel voted to prevent the junk foods.

On Monday a Republican summary of the legislation was unveiled, which could be approved this week.

The American Frozen Food Institute industry lobby group has welcomed the move saying it "recognises the significant amounts of potassium, fibre and vitamins A and C provided by tomato paste and ensures that students may continue to enjoy healthy meals such as pizza and pasta."

But director of nutrition policy at the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, Margo Wootan, told the ABC the legislation was about protecting pizza makers, not nutrition.

"Pepperoni pizza is not a vegetable," she said.

Current definitions of a full serving of vegetables is eight tablespoons, excluding a "loophole" that set the amount of tomato paste required at two tablespoons, about the amount on a single slice.

The USDA proposed earlier this year that eight tablespoons of tomato paste should be required in one vegetable serving.

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