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Attention swingbellies: Pizza sauce is a healthy vegetable

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The US government will officially declare pizza sauce a vegetable* in its own right, if Congress passes a rule change to recategorise the runny topping as a full-fledged vegetable this week.

The expected ruling will come as part of lawmakers' annual spending bill for the US Department of Agriculture, and provision for subsidised school meals for the States' poorest, and often fattest, children.

The agency had been planning to take measures to cut down on the amount of pizza, fries and starchy vegetables (ie, potatos and beans) schools palm off on their poorest charges, in a misguided attempt to ensure school meals are actually "healthy".

The AFP reports that USDA's definition of a serving of vegetables equates to eight tablespoons' worth of said veg.

However, a "loophole" meant two tablespoons of tomato paste – roughly the amount needed to coat a slice of pizza – also counted as a vegetable. By that reckoning a full-size pizza would be enough to get PETA's bikini-clad commandos smacking their lips.

USDA's attempts to close the loophole were targeted by Republicans, liberally backed by the convenience food industry.

The American Frozen Food Institute said it "applauded" the Senate approval for an amendment blocking the move last week.

"We are particularly grateful for their efforts at ensuring schools and the children they serve continue to have access to a variety of nutritious foods as part of school lunch and breakfast programs, and hope the US Department of Agriculture will heed their direction."

The Institute warned that USDA's thoroughly un-American proposals would have increased the cost of the average school lunch by 14 cents, and breakfast by 50 cents. ®

Sauce-note

An affront to botanists and pedants alike, as any fule kno that the tomato is a fruit.

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