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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Do we really need pizza watchdogs?

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Here's something I didn't know. A pizza's not a pizza

unless the government says it's a pizza. Under

Department of Agriculture regulations, the ingredients

in a frozen pizza are dictated in terms of meat and

cheese content, tomato-based sauce and the

always-important crust. Not enough meat? It ain't a

pizza, so say the feds.

But now the Agriculture watchdogs want to eliminate

these details and allow frozen pizza makers to put

whatever in a pizza that consumers want. And in the

process, a meat pizza may soon contain as little as 2

percent meat instead of the current 10-12 percent.

Now all of these fancy rules and regulations would

seem nonsense until you realize that pizzas are big

business. We Americans consume $30 billion worth of

pizza pies annually though the frozen variety accounts

for only a small percentage of that amount.

It seems that Americans' taste and waistlines have

changed since the federal regulations went into

effect. Originally designed to promote the consumption

of meats and cheeses, the guidelines are a bit

outdated these days since more Americans are embracing

healthy diets. That would mean less meats and cheese

and more items that are lower in fat content.

Some consumer groups fear the relaxation of the

minimum content guidelines will simply increase the

profits for the pizza makers. Not so say the pizza

people. They are exploring products that consumers

want so they'll keep coming back again and again.

So what can we expect from the new improved

guidelines? How about duck sausage and goat cheese

pizza with no cheese and no sauce? That's a big seller

in Chicago and with no federal requirements, it may

soon be making its way across the nation.

Actually I think it's a good idea for the feds to get

out of the pizza business anyway. Consumers will buy

what they like regardless of the exact percentage of

meat and cheese and sauce. In very general terms, if

you're watching your fat content then you should

probably avoid pizza. I don't need the feds to tell me

what I think I already know.

Now as long as the duck sausage and goat cheese

lobbyists don't get in the act, we should be OK!

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