Read This Before You Eat French Dressing Again

It may say "French" but its contents are as American as apple pie. As The Los Angeles Times put it, "French" dressing isn't really French, it's a vinaigrette amped up with the addition of tomato ketchup or tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and sugar. No matter how un-French the dressing might be, the manufacture of this sauce is still governed by a set of rules that were set by the Food and Drug Administration in 1950. For its base, French dressing must be made with vinegar, oil, and lemon or lime, to which can be added tomato or paprika. The agency also says the dressing, which we know of as red-orange in color, must be 35 percent vegetable oil (via NBC).

But if the FDA has its way, standards for the manufacture of French dressing, which have stayed the same for 70 years, could soon be a thing of the past, because as the FDA put it, "The standard does not appear necessary to ensure that the product meets consumer expectations. The FDA has tentatively concluded that it is no longer necessary to promote honest and fair dealing in the interest of consumers and may limit flexibility for innovation."

The manufacture of French dressing sits under the FDA's standards of identity

French dressing is just one of the items whose manufacture the FDA says no longer needs to sit under the "standards of identity," some of which were established by the FDA during a time when food quality was particularly questionable. During a hearing, the director for the FDA'S Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Susan Mayne said, "We know that many standards were established decades ago and have not been recently amended to reflect changes in consumer expectations or opportunities for innovation, including the ability to produce healthier foods." One of the other commercially-prepared food items whose manufacture the FDA says it would no longer govern is cherry pie

Like the FDA's decision to revoke manufacturing standards for commercial cherry pies, its decision to change the standards for French Dressing was made in response to a petition by the Association for Dressing and Sauces (via Today). The FDA says: "The potential for innovation is evidenced by the growing variety of dressings for salads on the market that are formulated to meet consumers' preferences and needs. Therefore, we tentatively conclude that the proposed rule to revoke the standard of identity for French dressing would, if finalized, provide social benefits at no cost to the respective industries."