"Only rice is rice, and calling 'riced vegetables' 'rice' is misleading and confusing to consumers," begins the latest agricultural throwdown, this one courtesy of the president of USA Rice. The lobbying group is understandably upset by what Quartz terms the "popularization of 'cauliflower rice'"—cauliflower that's essentially ground up until it looks and acts very much like actual rice. The vegetable version, which Business Insider notes is a huge hit in Silicon Valley, has started popping up in freezer aisles near packages of frozen vegetables and actual rice—with Green Giant Fresh even going so far as to market its version with the slogan "Move over, rice." Says USA Rice, "We may be asking the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies to look at this" and make a ruling on the standards of identity.
"Just as with milk, no one owns the word 'rice,'" scoffs the executive director of the Plant Based Foods Association. "As long as consumers are not confused, I doubt USA Rice will get very far with [the] FDA." Quartz notes that USA Rice has to tread delicately here, as its members are perfectly happy marketing their rice milk on dairy shelves. Adds a rep for Mann Packing, a California company that hawks cauliflower, "Consumers are smart. I don't think anyone is going to mistake regular rice for a riced cauliflower product, frozen or fresh." (A hummus producer and the maker of Hellmann's mayonnaise have thrown similar fits.)