Pizza Lobby to FDA: Step Away From the Pie

With regulatory pressures on the food industry rising, one narrow, triangular-shaped sector is upping its lobbying game to get rid of regulations it finds unsavory. The goal: To ensure the only question that remains on consumers' minds is "Deep dish or thin crust?"

No matter how you slice it, the Food and Drug Administration’s new calorie-labeling rules for restaurants aren’t palatable to the pizza industry.

How could they? The rules take direct aim at a product that’s covered with cheese, tomato sauce, dough, and all manner of toppings—ingredients that, when combined, reach the upper limits of federal nutritional guidelines, as well as the upper limits of tastiness.

Take a slice of Little Caesar’s, for example. The national pizza chain, which posts nutritional information [PDF] on its website, sells deep-dish cheese pizzas that are 360 calories per slice. Now consider the recently introduced bacon-wrapped pizza it started selling—at 460 calories a slice—and you might see the problem.

The trade group that represents the food of lazy weeknights and Saturday ballgames isn’t ready to give in, however. A recent Bloomberg Business report notes that the trade group American Pizza Community (APC) has been fighting to exempt its members, which it notes are often small and family-owned, from the FDA rules.

The pizza purveyors feel so threatened by the calorie-labeling rules that they are looking to expand their presence in Washington. The report notes that APC is even considering some alliances that may have seemed unlikely even a few years ago.

“We are in the beginning stages. We are trying to build our way up and get these messages out,” APC Chair Lynn Liddle told the publication. “In trying to figure out who we are when we grow up, one of the questions is: Do we include frozen pizza in the group?”

(Liddle is also an executive for Domino’s, which once snarkily claimed on its boxes that frozen pizza is “the root of all evil.”)

The Cold War

Frozen pizza is facing some legislative battles of its own, having been targeted by regulators in the ongoing battle over school lunch regulations.

The American Frozen Food Institute, which runs a subsidiary focused specifically on pizza-related issues, recently challenged proposed rules that would have changed the way tomato paste was counted as a vegetable on pizzas.

“None of our members wanted the federal government to say, ‘Pizza is bad for you.’ You would have been telling an entire generation that pizza is a food you shouldn’t consume,” AFFI CEO Kraig Naasz told the publication.

With pizza facing regulatory scrutiny at a particularly high level these days, it still hasn’t killed our love for the pies. In fact, a recent University of Michigan study named it as the most addictive food out there—even topping chocolate.

For some, the calorie count may not be enough to stop the addiction. (Editor’s note: I’m suddenly hungry.)


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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