Since 1950, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) kept strict control over the key ingredients, and even the amounts with which the “French dressing” should be made that is marketed in the United States. But 72 years later, the FDA has reconsidered requests made by manufacturers for decades.
Among the various guidelines that manufacturers had to meet to sell a product as French dressing, how to make the dressing with 35% vegetable oil. The dressing was also required to contain vinegar or lemon or lime juice.
The strict control of the FDA on French dressing restricted manufacturers’ freedom to innovate and provide a wide variety of choices to consumers. Customers looking for low-fat or fat-free versions of the condiment were out of luck as those products could not legally be marketed as “French dressing,” according to the Association of Dressings and Sauces (ADS).
Since the standard was adopted, a variety of non-standardized salad dressings proliferated with different flavors and composition, which even have been among the favorites of American consumers, such as ranch, Italian and Caesar dressing.
Tomatoes or tomato-derived ingredients were among the condiment ingredients permitted but not required in the dressing. Although consumers currently expect French dressing to contain tomatoes or tomato-derived ingredients, and to be red or reddish-orange in color.
Now French dressing makers can choose to add or remove oil, as well as tomato paste, as long as they are safe for consumers.
The FDA determined to remove its preparation standards in response to a petition filed as early as 1998 by the ADS.
The FDA determined that by releasing the obsolete preparation standard, it provides an opportunity for innovation for French dressing manufacturers.
“We conclude that the standard of identity for French dressing no longer promotes honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers and revoking the standard could provide greater flexibility in product manufacturing, consistent with comparable non-standardized foods available on the market,” the agency wrote.
A strict “release” from FDA preparation standards was also implemented in 2020 for frozen cherry pies. The manufacturers of these tarts were required that the dessert contain at least 25% cherries and that 85% of those cherries be flawless.
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