Pizza chains denounce calorie labeling in stores

pizza, healthy, stock, 4x3
pizza, healthy, stock, 4x3

(CBS News) Lobbyists for America's biggest pizza chains landed on Capitol Hill Wednesday to deliver a message about proposed nutrition rules.

As part of the health care bill, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, wants Americans to know what they're eating, so they're looking to require chains with more than 20 stores to post calorie content right on their menu boards. The pizza industry says that's not a recipe that works for them.

Different combinations of toppings and crusts can drastically change the calorie content of a pizza. Domino's Pizza spokesperson Lynn Liddle said, "There are 34 million different ways that you can make a pizza. That's an actual number, we did the math. Can't really calorie label that on a board." Three billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year.

Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, said, "The idea that the range of calories is so great that it is meaningless, I don't think holds a lot of water or mozzarella cheese at all, because it at least gives you a ballpark figure."

Americans consume on average 2.1 slices of pizza per serving. And there's another issue: unlike the food at most chain restaurants, pizza is often ordered by phone or online, which means customers don't see those menu boards in the first place.

Spokespeople for the pizza industry insist they aren't trying to avoid calorie labeling altogether.

Liddle, executive vice president of Communications for Domino's, said, "We're offering to do this online and in handheld menus that would be in the stores."

There's not much evidence yet whether posting calorie counts affects consumer's decisions. But no matter what gets posted it may be tough to break the American love affair with the simple guilty beauty of cheese, pizza, sauce and dough.

Watch "CBS This Morning" special correspondent Jeff Glor's full report in the video above.