The end may be nigh for the Kiwi pie as we know it. A new national group of business and health industry representatives, called the Pie Group, is planning to give the favourite New Zealand "maggot pack" a nutritional makeover.
Representatives from the Baking Industry Association of New Zealand, the Food Industry Group, ingredient suppliers, pie makers, the NZ Heart Foundation, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service and the Ministry of Health make up the group.
Its aim is to formulate new standards for pie-making that will reduce the fat content, and combat the "golf ball of fat per pie" myth.
The idea is based on the Chip Group, a similar initiative that set guidelines for reducing fat in hot chips by up to 20 per cent.
Kiwis eat around 67 million pies a year, according to The Great New Zealand Pie Guide, a national pie-tasting travel directory.
Auckland author Andre Taber, who spent a month travelling the country eating pies, says he applauds the Pie Group for its attempts to educate New Zealanders.
However, he says, "the pie was invented as a high-energy meal... Unfortunately, when you take the fat out of a pie, you lose the flavour."
Gareth Hughes, an Aucklander who set up Down Under Bakery Pies in New York, is also worried about losing the taste factor.
He says while people eating healthier is not a bad thing, the meat pie is "probably the best known food item in New Zealand and Australia and the flavour is often in the fat." Hughes says his own pies would have to undergo changes in the next few years, as New York City had recently passed a ban on all transfats (fats formed when liquid oils are made into solid fats by adding hydrogen, and commonly found in vegetable oils).
A recent analysis of New Zealand pies carried out by Agriquality for the Healthy Kai Programme showed a difference of 860kJ (205kcal) between the highest and lowest energy pies.
The Pie Group plans to create a recommended criteria for energy, total fat, saturated fat and transfat, and sodium levels for pie-makers to follow without sacrificing too much of that beloved meaty taste.
Eddie Grooten of Dad's Pies, which supplies BP with its popular pies, says the public perception of the industry needs to change. A healthier pie would feature better quality ingredients, such as lean meat and thinner pastry.
Simon Bennett, co-founder of the Pie Group and president of the BIANZ, says one of the aims of the group is to challenge the "huge variation of fat levels in a pie".
CEO of the New Zealand Nutrition Group Sue Pollard says it's a matter of pie eaters being sensible. "The good old New Zealand pie - you wouldn't want to say you should never eat them... just maybe not three a day."