The Food and Drug Administration said it would stop regulating French dressing after keeping tight control over its key ingredients since 1950.
The US agency announced on Wednesday that it would lift guidelines that required manufacturers to sell a product containing 35% vegetable oil if they wanted to market it as “French vinaigrette”.
French dressing also had to contain vinegar or lemon or lime juice. Other ingredients like salt, tomato paste and spices were allowed, but not required.
The FDA said the strict threshold “no longer promotes honesty and fairness” to benefit consumers.
By removing the standard, the FDA hopes to “provide greater flexibility in manufacturing the product, compatible with comparable non-standardized foods available in the marketplace.”
This decision was made in response to a 1998 petition filed by the Association of Dressings and Sauces. It’s unclear why the FDA waited until recently to respond to the group’s petition.
The trade group argued that strict FDA guidelines stifle innovation and leave consumers with limited options in the marketplace.
Customers looking for low-fat or fat-free versions of the condiment were out of luck, as these products could not legally be marketed as “French dressing,” according to the ADS.
The group also wondered why the French dressing was subject to scrutiny when most other dressings were not.
In a statement, ADS said it “supports” the FDA’s decision.
“Since the adoption of the standard, there has been a proliferation of a wide variety of unstandardized pourable dressings with different flavors (e.g., Italian, blue cheese, salad dressing, ranch, caesar) and composition (including reduced in fat, ‘light’ and fat-free salad dressings),” the trade group said in a statement.
“The French seasoning standard does not serve as a reference for these pourable dressings, due to the variation in composition to meet the changing needs of consumers. As a result, the French dressing standard simply limits innovation.
Now that the guidelines have been lifted, manufacturers of French dressings can choose to add or subtract vegetable oil or tomato paste as long as they are safe for consumers.
Judging by American tastes, the decision to dress French is unlikely to have much effect on sales. In 2017, an ADS survey found ranch dressing to be the preferred condiment. The second most popular dressing was Italian.
Rules governing the marketing of foods, including milk and cottage cheese, were put in place decades ago by the federal government to ensure quality.
The FDA says it is rethinking its oversight as part of its Nutrition Innovation Strategy, which was enacted in 2018 to “take a fresh look at what can be done to reduce preventable deaths and illnesses linked to poor nutrition.” nutrition,” according to its website.
The FDA also regulates other foods, including mayonnaise and vanilla extract. The FDA defines mayonnaise as containing no less than 65% vegetable oil by weight. Vanilla extract could only be sold if it contained at least 35% ethyl alcohol by volume.
During the Trump administration, FDA officials proposed revoking guidelines governing the classification of frozen cherry pies.
The rules for frozen cherry pies, which have been around for decades, state that they must contain 25% cherries by weight and that no more than 15% of the cherries are blemished.