I assumed one of the eventual casualties of recent school lunch reform efforts would be pizza, simply because of its lack of nutritional value. Silly me. It appears that every kid's favorite junk food item is safe -- at least for now.
Pizza companies are slimming down their slices in order to comply with new laws governing school lunches. For instance, Domino's has rolled out a new "Smart Slice" developed specifically for schools. But how "smart" is it really?
Available only at schools, the slice of pizza features a whole-grain crust, reduced-sodium sauce, reduced-sodium "lite" mozzarella -- which has half the fat of traditional pizza cheese -- and reduced-fat pepperoni. It sounds healthy(ish) on paper, but you might think otherwise when you compare the nutritional info to that of a standard slice: 340 calories and 600 mg of sodium in the Smart Slice versus 380 calories and 920 mg of sodium in the regular.
I have two issues with calling this pizza "smart." First, the amount of sodium, though reduced, is still high, especially when we're talking about school-age kids. The daily recommended sodium intake for kids ages 4 to 8 is 1,200 to 1,900 mg. If a child eats just one slice of this pizza, they're already almost halfway there.
Second, while the calorie count isn't exorbitantly high, I am disappointed to see kids getting so many calories from food that has little nutritional value. Whole grains are, of course, good. But when I think of healthy foods, rarely do sauce and cheese come to mind. And why not substitute pepperoni for some fresh vegetable toppings? Plus, should we really pat ourselves on the back for saving 40 calories? C'mon, Domino's! We can do better.
With so much attention and effort focused on the need to improve school lunches, it's frustrating to me when I see companies rolling out "lite" versions of crappy food and marketing it as "healthy" instead of developing new lunch options that include fresh fruit, vegetables, and other foods with actual nutritional value.
Supposedly, if Domino's Smart Slice is successfully received in schools, it will become available to the general public. But forgive me if that news doesn't excite me at all.
What do you think about Domino's new Smart Slice?
Image via Monsieur_Gordon/Flickr