The FDA has finally stated, clearly and definitely, that “love” isn’t an ingredient … at least in granola.
Recently the news and social media have been filled with articles about the FDA’s recent warning letter to a bakery in Concord, Massachusetts, in which they were cited for (amongst other things), including “love” which is “not a common or usual name of an ingredient.” What the news articles fail to mention are the “other things” for which the bakery was cited.
“Love” isn’t the real problem
Okay, so love might not be a bonifide ingredient in granola. But is that the real problem here? No.
The bakery was cited for quite a few other issues that really are problems:
- Failure to properly clean containers and materials, leaving residue from past batch(es) in containers which were supposedly “clean” and ready for use. That inlcuded allergen transfer, where containers containing tree nuts or cheese were going to be used for other products.
- Debris and encrusted buildup on equipement to be used to mix dough.
- Buildings, fixtures and other physical facilities not kept clean (“in sanitary condition”) or in sufficient repair to keep from possibly adulterating the food.
- Flies and bugs in the area where ready-to-eat foods were open and cooling.
- Employees wearing jewelry that come in contact with raw dough and drink cans and mugs used by employees sitting around the production area.
- Labeling errors, including the “love” ingredient but also including undisclosed ingredients, missing nutrition statements, and incorrect claims.
Warning letters don’t come first
Keep in mind, also, that warning letters aren’t the first step of trying to get a business back on track.
In the case of this bakery, they were visited and inspected by the FDA between May 25 and June 8, when these observations were made. In line with FDA procedures, an FDA Form 483 was issued, so the management of the bakery understood what the issues were. The warning letter said that they made promises to correct the errors.
The letter gave them 15 days to respond with the specific steps they were taking to correct the problems.
Four months later, no response from the bakery to the FDA stating what they did to fix the issues. So they got a warning letter.
The press and social media have focused on the “love isn’t an ingredient” aspect of this warning letter because it’s interesting and can get people all up-in-arms at what they perceive to be out-of-line government intervention.
When you actually look at the available information, you see that the FDA seems to have handled the situation in a relatively lenient manner. They inspected, gave the results to management and gave them 15 days to fix the errors (which the bakery promised to do) — and then didn’t issue a public warning letter until almost 4 months later.
“Love” may not be a valid ingredient in granola, but then, neither are bugs or debris.