What can we trust in a world where cherry pie can lose some of its filling and where carrot pie donuts can no longer contain carrots? We offer the following.

As simple as cake

Let’s start with the cherry pie. In December 2020, the FDA decided to change the standards for cherry cake. While more people could see that the “D” in the FDA stands for medication, the “F” refers to food because the agency approves and regulates therapies – these are the people responsible for all of these food recalls.

The FDA has detailed guidelines on food, especially for “bread, fruit jams, certain vegetable and fruit juices, and certain types of chocolate”. These are known as identity standards, specific rules for what may or may not be included in a particular product. To call something “bread”, the FDA allows 16 ingredients – some of them obvious like yeast, eggs or flour – but also specific preservatives and additives. To be advertised as bread, a product must meet these standards.

But what about a cherry pie?

The old cherry cakes had to meet two standards: at least a quarter of the cake had to contain real cherries, and only a small portion of those cherries couldn’t be perfect – marked, crusted, and so on. Basically, a cake had to be full of really good cherries. In 2020, the FDA allowed policy changes because the rules were no longer needed to protect consumers and that changing the rules would allow cake makers some flexibility in the amount and quality of cherry they could choose. The change, supporters said, would open up the market more.

In its proposal to drop the identity standards for cherry cakes, the FDA already stated: “The identity standard for frozen cherry cakes also states that” artificial sweeteners are not suitable ingredients for frozen cherry cakes “. However, baked frozen cherry pie and baked non-frozen cherry pie can be made with artificial sweeteners to make low-sugar varieties… ”and this new growing technology means that some manufacturers are using cherries that are less sweet. The FDA calls this important to meet consumer needs, low sugar cherry cake and to illustrate why identity standards are out of date.

Let them eat more humble cakes

The American Baking Association requested the change. The main argument: if people wanted to spend more money on a frozen cake that has more, better quality cherries, they could, but people should have the right to buy a cheaper cake with less cherry density if they wanted.

In its argument, the ABA made an excellent point: only cherry cake is regulated in this way. Your frozen apple pie? No rules. Blueberry An all-rounder. Why should cherry cake be subject to stricter standards? In its proposal to change the rules for cherry pie, the FDA wrote, “There are currently no identity or quality standards for non-frozen cherry pie. frozen, baked cherry pie; or other frozen or unfrozen fruit cakes. “The FDA indicated that in other pie markets, consumers can find out what to pay for quality, manage and understand a variety of options. The ABA stated in a post that it does not believe that changing standards would change quality. “Whether it is frozen cherry cakes or other baked goods – the quality would not change … The livelihood of bakers depends on the integrity and quality of their products. Consumers are very demanding – even more so than a government agency. ”

No dollars for these donuts

This brings us to the topic of donuts. In particular, the Hostess Limited Edition Spring Carrot Cake Donettes. In August 2020, Elena LaUNG Nacarino filed a lawsuit in California alleging that the labeling of these little donettes was misleading and fraudulent. Despite their name, the “Donettes” do not contain any carrots at all. A federal judge dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit in late February, citing it [the] “The plaintiff did not adequately assert its fraudulent claims,” ​​and both parties signed an agreement. The court essentially told the plaintiff that he was not coming back.

While promoting carrot cake without carrots feels double, it doesn’t break the rules. The problem is so confusing that in 2016 the FDA actually released a guide to help explain the situation to consumers.

Using examples like lemon and maple, the guild tried to explain that things can be advertised as “maple” or “maple flavor” but do not contain real maple syrup. Likewise, a product can look like it has real fruit with pictures of it on the box, but if fruit isn’t listed as an ingredient, that’s just advertising. The bottom line is that the list of ingredients cannot lie – this part is regulated. The front of the packaging, the side that normally faces the consumer, contains both advertising and information. In fact, these hostess donettes didn’t list carrots as an ingredient. On the packaging you will find the words “artificially seasoned” directly above the words “mini donuts with carrot cake”.

Change standards

Cherry Pie isn’t the only product change, the FDA is also proposing a change to the French dressing. This change, proposed in 2020 at the urging of the Dressings and Sauces Association, would break the identity standards for French dressings. The FDA stated that some modern “low-fat” French dressings actually violate the identity standards set in the 1950s that French dressings must contain at least 35% vegetable oil.

In both cases, the cherry pie and the French dressing, the idea of ​​change was a big issue. Identity standards were set decades ago, and since then both consumer ideas and manufacturing processes have changed significantly. Groups like ABA and ADS believe that guidelines should keep pace with the times and that consumer choices should come first.

Not everyone agrees. Marion Nestle, professor of food studies and public health at New York University, told the New York Times, “They want to do it because they want less fat than the identity standard allows, and they want to get more trash in there.”

Our final thoughts? We offer the following. First, if you are passionate about ingredients that should reflect an item’s name, read the packaging label before purchasing. Second, in a world ravaged by Covid, it’s comforting to know that these types of concerns, regardless of their importance or the lack of them, are still out there.

Sabrina Emms is a science journalist. She began as an intern on a health and science podcast on Philadelphia public radio. Before that, she worked as a researcher studying the way bones are formed. When she is not in the laboratory and not at her computer, she is in the moonlight as an assistant to a pig veterinarian and bagel baker.