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FDA changes 72yo standard

The US Food and Drug Administration has deregulated the making of French dressing, revoking the “standard of identity” for the salad topping. The request comes decades after the industry first called for standards to be dropped.

On Thursday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tossed out the old “standard of identity” for French dressing in a move that gives makers the chance to innovate and create new variants of the popular American salad topping. 

The FDA determined “that the standard of identity for French dressing no longer promotes honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers” and that deregulating its production would be consistent with other condiments which are not governed by standardization.

The 72-year-old “standard of identity” mandated which ingredients must be present in the sauce for it to be marketed as French dressing. Historically, the sauce contains tomatoes, oil, vinegar, and other seasonings. 

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The FDA also noted that certain French dressings did not meet the old standards, such as “fat free” versions, but said that customers were not being shortchanged by the producers’ variants. “By contrast, these varieties appear to accommodate customer preferences and dietary restrictions.”

The original rules for salad dressing production were brought in during the 1950s, when supermarket shoppers did not have a plethora of options.

The Association for Dressings and Sauces (ADS) had argued for decades that the arrival of so many other types of salad dressing in the market came about because of a lack of regulation.

Thursday’s ruling came after the ADS petitioned the FDA in December 2020. It was originally petitioned in 1998.

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