What is in this article?:
- Wet martinis and Froot: A humorous romp through food labeling rules
- When mislabeling is permissible
- What? Froot Loops don’t contain fruit?
- Why trans fat-free foods can actually contain trans fats
- Can Havana Club rum hail from Puerto Rico?
- A potential safe harbor for clever marketers?
Over dinner with his children, regulatory attorney Ivan Wasserman contemplates the ins and outs of food labeling rules.
One Saturday evening a few months ago, while dining with my family, I ordered my usual from the waiter: a gin martini, three olives, very dry. When my cocktail arrived, my 4-year-old daughter looked at me with that confused look she gets, and I knew those little, barely connected wheels were turning in her head. Finally, she said, “Daddy, I thought you asked for a dry martini.” I told her I had, and she replied “But that looks very wet.” I explained that dry doesn’t really mean dry when it comes to martinis. To which she replied: “But remember that night when you were reading me the FDLI’s Compilation of Food and Drug Laws and you said that Section 403(a) of the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act says that a food is deemed misbranded if its labeling is false or misleading in any particular?”
After a long pause, and one of the olives, I told her to finish her nuggets.
That exchange got me thinking, though. Although the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act contains the general prohibition against false or misleading food labeling, there are actually several situations where the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations expressly allow food labels to state things that may be misleading.