WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS Washington) — Next time your mom tells you to eat your vegetables, tell her you want a pizza.
Revisions to a spending bill Tuesday would classify pizza as a vegetable and pits school lunch reformers against conservatives who say government should keep its fork to itself.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest blasted Congress in a release saying it’s more interested in protecting prepackaged and frozen food industries than protecting children’s health.
“Pizza should be served with a vegetable, not count as one,” nutrition director Margo Wootan said. She called it a bigger blunder than when President Ronald Reagan tried and failed to credit ketchup as a vegetable.
Congress is pushing back against the Obama administration and its Agriculture Department bill that limits the use of starches like potatoes, cuts sodium and boosting whole grain in school lunches.
A final version of the bill released late Monday cuts out the reforms based on the 2009 recommendations of the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences.
Though conservatives suggest the bill was a classic case of government reaching onto plates that weren’t its own, a group of retired military generals said not reforming school lunch guidelines is a national security risk.
“It doesn’t take an advanced degree in nutrition to call this a national disgrace,” Mission: Readiness Director Amy Dawson Taggart said.
Obesity is the leading medical disqualifier for military service, the release said, and children get up to 40 percent of their daily calories during the school day.
The bill suggests the tomato paste in pizza is sufficient to include the meal as a vegetable.