AFFI Claims Victory And Supports FSIS on Elimination of Pizza Standard
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
published the rescission of the standard of identity for frozen meat-topped pizzas in the Federal
Register, a victory for the AFFI and NFPI, after a four and a half year battle. NFPI, managed by
AFFI, requested the action of FSIS on February 4, 1999, claiming the current standards prevent
the industry from providing consumers with a lower fat product and with innovative pizza styles.
In an effort to further stimulate an already rapidly growing market, FSIS supported the proposal.
The repeal of the proposal permits frozen meat pizzas to have a minimum meat content of two
percent cooked or three percent raw meat, the same level for any product to be considered a meat
food product under USDA jurisdiction. The previous standard for frozen meat pizzas is a
minimum of 12 percent cooked or 15 percent raw meat content along with crust, cheese and a
While FSIS rescinded the standard, the agency still continues to believe that meat and poultry
toppings are the characterizing ingredient in frozen meat-topped pizzas. Thus, for at least the next
three years, the agency is requiring all meat and poultry topped frozen pizzas to declare the
percentage of meat or poultry on the label contiguous to the ingredient statement.
"AFFI believes the previous pizza standard of identity no longer reflects the marketplace and
those consumers that the frozen pizza industry serves. The pizza standard was inconsistent with
the variety that consumers have come to expect in pizza," said Leslie G. Sarasin, AFFI's president
and chief executive officer.
AFFI supported the agency's determination that the standards may inhibit manufacturers of
federally inspected frozen pizza from producing and marketing new styles of pizzas that
consumers demand. In addition, elimination of the standard will benefit consumers' nutritional
"Elimination of the standard will simplify the ability of frozen pizza manufacturers to specially
formulate pizzas that are more consistent with USDA's nutritional guidance, such as reducing fat
and cholesterol in American diets. In today's society, people have become more health conscious
and the trend appears to be increasing. The repeal of the standard will enable pizza companies to
adapt more to meet the needs of today's consumers," said Sarasin.
Supermarket sales of frozen pizza have increased more than 60 percent over the last five years,
totaling $3.1 billion in 2002. Frozen pizza represents one of the fastest growing segments of the
frozen food category.
Source: Frozen Food Digest, October 2003, American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI)