The newest version of a proposed Congressional spending bill will classify pizza and French fries served as part of school lunches as vegetables, reports the Associated Press.
The proposal, released last Monday, would essentially undo standards recommended by the Agriculture Department, which would have limited the allowance of foods such as pizza and potatoes, and instead boosted the servings of whole grains and fresh vegetables.
However, according to the final spending bill, two tablespoons of tomato paste used in pizza sauce could now be considered a vegetable serving, even though the standard serving size of one pizza slice contains less than the current recommended vegetable serving of tomato paste, which is half a cup.
And the bill would require further definition of “whole grains” by the USDA before regulation; and, it would essentially block the USDA from putting limits on the servings of starchy vegetables including corn, potatoes and peas (the proposed limitation is no more than two servings per week).
Hearkening to Reagan-era classification of ketchup as a vegetable, critics of the bill are pointing fingers at lobbyists for manufacturers of processed foods facing major losses as schools move towards fresher healthier ingredients and away from frozen and processed meals.
Controversy over federal regulations on what can and cannot be served to students has incited some Republicans and school districts that think the USDA proposals will be too costly and overstep boundaries about food choices.
The USDA is continuing its efforts to provide healthier food options for the nation’s students despite the pushback from Congress.
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