The USDA has reportedly decided to reclassify vegetables as “fake food,” a move that will save the government millions of dollars per year, Axios reported.
The move is likely a way to save the USDA $7.4 billion per year by classifying food as “food” when it actually is not, the outlet reported.
USDA spokesman Matt Miller told Axios that the agency is “not making a recommendation to classify vegetables as food.”
Miller explained that the USDA does not want to make “a false and misleading statement” about the classifications of food.
In an emailed statement, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) wrote that it “has not changed the classification of foods” and that “food remains a public health issue.”
Miller said that the FSIS “has identified a range of public health problems related to the food that have been identified through scientific research.”
Miller told the outlet that the food classifications “have been developed over a long period of time and continue to improve over time.”
He added that USDA “continues to consult with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on food safety issues.”
According to the USDA, the classification system is designed to “provide an accurate picture of food quality and safety and improve public health.”
The USDA classifies food into four categories: edible, non-edible, nonfood, and food with a “high” risk of safety or potential harm.
According to Axios, the FDA has been working with the USDA on the classification since 2015, and that the FDA’s guidance was adopted in 2015.
“The food that is not edible is also not food and thus can not be classified as food,” Miller said.
“This is the same reasoning we use when it comes to labeling cars.
If we are going to label cars as ‘commercial motor vehicles,’ we are not going to do that with non-food vehicles.”
Miller added that the classification is not meant to be used as a tool to regulate food, as “it does not provide the FDA with any information on how many food items fall under the food category.”
to the Food Safety & Inspection Service, the designation system is intended to help consumers better understand how foods are prepared, packaged, and stored.
The USDA’s new classification system would require the agency to keep records of food products and labels.
It would also require the USDA to submit a report to Congress about the number of food items that fall under each category.
“It’s important to note that we do not classify food as food, and we do NOT classify food products as food products,” Miller told reporters in response to questions about the classification.
“Food products are different than food, which is why we use different methods for classification.”
The new classification would also allow the agency more flexibility in how it classifies foods, with the FSIST “considering food products to be more appropriate when compared to other food categories,” the report stated.
According a report from Axios last year, the Food & Drug Administration and FDA’s Center for Food Safety were “concerned about the possible unintended consequences of the new classification scheme for food safety.”
The report said that some foods, such as tomatoes, may not be labeled as food because they are processed, salted, or have a salt content.
The report also said that food labeling could result in more confusing food products because consumers may mistakenly think the label includes more than one food item.
The FDA is also concerned about the new definition, with Director of Food Safety, Dan Kocher, warning that it could cause “food safety problems” if it became widely used.
“We’re concerned about this classification because we know that the number one concern with food is how it’s packaged, packaged in the wrong containers, and it’s not necessarily labeled correctly,” Koccher told reporters last year.
“These types of food labeling changes will affect all of us, not just food.”