The FDA Won't Save You From Bad Apple Pie

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 19, 2019 | Last updated on June 11, 2021

The Food and Drug Administration oversees everything from testing new prescription medication to getting contaminated food products off the shelves. And you might be surprised to learn that the FDA's purview includes the percentage of cherries necessary in a frozen cherry pie, and how many of them can be "blemished."

But those days may soon be over. Recently released emails indicating President Donald Trump's push for deregulation will include cuts to food standards, including minimum requirements for apple pie and "French" dressing. So, what happens then?

So Good, Make a Grown Man Cry

Current FDA rules on frozen cherry pie require that "[t]he fruit content of the pie is such that the weight of the washed and drained cherry content is not less than 25 percent of the weight of the pie." The regulations are also very specific when it comes to "blemished" cherries:

Not more than 15 percent by count of the cherries in the pie are blemished with scab, hail injury, discoloration, scar tissue, or other abnormality. A cherry showing skin discoloration (other than scald) having an aggregate area exceeding that of a circle nine thirty-seconds of an inch in diameter is considered to be blemished. A cherry showing discoloration of any area but extending into the fruit tissue is also considered to be blemished.

Failure to meet these requirements means the product gets slapped with a label indicating it fell "Below standard in quality," along with notes about cherry content or blemished cherries.

Un-Warranted Changes?

The cherry standards are part of a slew of decades-old FDA regulations to ensure minimum requirements for certain food products like French dressing, cottage cheese, and even milk. But not all products are monitored to such fine detail, and the regulations can stifle innovation and foster litigation, according to those in the food industry. Thus, they have been targeted as part of the Trump administration's deregulation agenda, and the FDA in emails noted plans to revoke the frozen cherry pie standard could come as soon as April 18.

So, if the FDA isn't looking out for your cherry pie, who is? "I feel confident our members are producing cherry pies with more than enough cherries," Lee Sanders of the American Bakers Association told the AP. And the Association of Dressings and Sauces will presumably police the mayonnaise aisle after narcing on a vegan spread masquerading as mayo, despite being eggless.

Don't worry -- we're sure all the deregulated foods will taste just great.

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