French Dressing Is Shedding Its FDA Regulations

This reverses decades of prior policy

Your salad dressing options might be expanding a bit.
Anna Pelzer/Unsplash

What’s in a name? When it comes to food and drink, plenty — well, maybe. Champagne and bourbon are far from the only things that have relatively strict guidelines as to what constitutes something that can be sold under that name. The Food and Drug Administration has also, historically speaking, governed what can and cannot be sold as French dressing, for instance.

But now, after more than 70 years, the agency has opted out of regulating this particular food. Could this lead to a substantial shift in the nation’s salad bowls? Probably not — but it’s an interesting case study in some of the more specific avenues of regulation nonetheless.

As The Washington Post reports, the FDA has changed its policy on the dressing in question. This is, the Post notes, in response to a petition filed in 1998 by a food industry group, the Association of Dressings and Sauces. Among the group’s cited reasons for filing their petition was the fact that the FDA’s guidelines prevented versions of the dressing with lower fat content — or no fat at all — from being labeled “French dressing.”

The existing regulations required anything sold as French dressing to have at least 35% of its weight come from vegetable oil. Also required? The presence of vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice.

With that regulation off the table, it could mean an easier time for salad dressing manufacturers. But it also might mean that you should take a closer look at the ingredient list before buying, just so you know what you’re consuming.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.