Food Can't Be Made With Love, According To The FDA

One of the oldest and most tried-and-true ingredients found in every type of cuisine around the world is one that can't be found on any store shelf: love. But for one Massachusetts-based bakery, the inclusion of "love" in one of their packaged products landed them in hot water with government regulators.

John Gates and Stuart Witt, childhood friends and co-owners of Nashoba Brook Bakery in Concord, Massachusetts, were surprised to receive a warning letter from the New York District Office of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) citing a list of regulatory violations observed during an inspection of the bakery.

While most of these violations were run-of-the-mill for a food processing operation — from equipment that wasn't thoroughly cleaned off after use to flies spotted in the vicinity — the portion of the letter that raised eyebrows, and drew widespread international attention, was the FDA's objection to one of the more whimsical ingredients listed on Nashoba's packaged granola, per the Washington Post.

The FDA rules that 'love' must be banned from packaged foods

"Your Nashoba Granola label lists ingredient 'Love.' Ingredients required to be declared on the label or labeling of food must be listed by their common or usual name," the FDA's warning letter to Gates and Witt read. It went on to state that "'Love' is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient."

In response to the agency's distinctly loveless letter, Gates told NPR that while "the idea that we have to take the word 'love' off of the ingredient list for our granola feels a little silly," the bakery was committed to complying with the FDA's guidelines, adding that "the only caveat is that we will ask for consideration where they might let us add love as a listed ingredient back into the granola label."

The FDA's letter drew widespread attention

Speaking to the Associated Press (quoted by CBS News) about the attention the letter brought the bakery from fans of love-filled baked goods everywhere, Gates mused that their story "taps this feeling that a lot of Americans have that there are ways in which the government can overreach, and it seems kind of silly." He believes that this government moratorium on this particular ingredient touched a nerve "because it's about the word love, it's cathartic. ... It makes it something that people can smile at."

Stuart Witt, who spent years crafting breads at an artisan bakery in Vermont before starting his own successful bakery, added that the business partners "feel very strongly that love is a big part of what we do ... because it's such a long process, there's so much room for error if you're not really caring and putting a lot of love into it," (via the Chicago Tribune).