• Frozen pizza standards relaxed by federal agency

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service loosened ingredient requirements for meat pizzas, giving frozen pizza manufacturers more flexibility in toppings, according to The Associated Press.

Beginning in October, frozen pizza makers can put just 2 percent cooked or 3 percent raw meat on top of  pizzas, instead of the 12 percent cooked or 15 percent raw currently required.

The agency is responsible for enforcing standards that restrict how much meat, fat and water goes into making frozen pizzas topped with sausage, pepperoni, hamburger, chicken or other meats.

The American Frozen Food Institute sought the change, arguing a less-restrictive standard enables manufacturers to make more healthful pizzas with less fat and cholesterol. For consumers, the move means they can expect a broader variety of vegetable, cheese and sauce toppings, even if there is less meat, said Steven Cohen, a spokesman for the agency.

Manufacturers "were really kind of at a disadvantage because every time they added meat it had to be 15 percent of the total, or 12 percent, so it really limited the types of ingredients they could offer," Cohen said. "They'll have the flexibility to do a lot of new things."

Supermarkets sold more than $2.5 billion in frozen pizzas in 2000, according to the news report.

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