WASHINGTON (The Hill) — The Association for Dressings and Sauces’ decades-long battle to revoke the standards for French dressing has finally come to an end, with the FDA agreeing to deregulate a label the group said “restricts innovation.” The decision from the FDA revokes the so-called “standard of identity” on the books since 1950 that dictates what ingredients manufacturers must include in order to market their product as French dressing.
The group has since 1998 sought to eliminate the standard for French dressing, arguing that the “nonstandardized pourable dressing” world had seen an explosion in products to meet consumer preferences and that French dressing “no longer serves as a benchmark for other dressings because of the wide variation in composition to meet consumer interests.”
In its final rule posted Wednesday, the FDA determined that “the standard of identity for French dressing no longer promotes honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers” while removing the term would give manufacturers “greater flexibility.”
The rule noted that the proposal received just 20 comments, including some comments that “appeared to have been submitted as part of a university course assignment.” The FDA noted that, “One comment said that the standard of identity for French dressing was ‘unnecessary red tape.'”
The 1950 definition for French dressing wasn’t particularly specific, even noting that tomato-based ingredients were “permitted, but not required.” Low-fat varieties, however, were not meeting the standard that 35% of the product by weight must be vegetable oil.
The cost-benefit analysis for the rule did not do a financial assessment but concluded the rule would afford manufacturers “additional flexibility, and the opportunity for innovation regarding, French dressing products.”