Are Standards of Identity Obsolete or Redundant?

Informal standards of identity were being developed by the Bureau of Chemistry, USDA, around the turn of the century These standards were recipes—often similar to the recipes typically used at home. Related to the early manufactured foods such as canned foods, cheeses, bread and other products from processed cereals (e.g., farina), they were useful in regulating "food adulteration and misbranding"—responsibilities of the Bureau of Chemistry and later at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At present, FDA has responsibility for standards of identity for many processed food products while the Food Safety and Inspection Service, a division of USDA, retains responsibility for processed products containing meat and poultry. These product definitions have always been of a contentious nature (the standard for bread required 10 years of negotiations). Yet, they have been a successful policy instrument, especially during the first half of the century. They were a rather comfortable extension to a food system of commodities but are a less realistic policy instrument for more differentiated products. In earlier days, they were important in the regulation of additives and in labeling. Both of these functions have been superseded as new, more specialized laws have been passed. The 1990 policy on nutritional labeling makes standards redundant in some respects. The purpose of this paper is to study the purpose and function of food standards of identity as the policy currently exists and to assess whether they are appropriate in today's conditions and in light of other current policies.

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 Record created 2017-12-15, last modified 2020-10-28

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