Name that Food: Macaroni Product?

Name that food:

Dry dough made from flour and water that is made into various shapes, may contain some optional ingredients such as salt or eggs.

According to Merriam Webster, Oxford English Dictionary, or wikipedia, we just described a food known as “pasta,” but then why do all of these labels call this food “macaroni product.”

That’s because “pasta” is one of FDA’s standardized foods — a food where FDA wrote the recipe and foods must comply with FDA’s recipe or violate the law. This food standard is rather old: the FDA-established name (“macaroni product”) dates back to an advisory standard from 1927 and the current established name was created in 1944 based on data collected through the 1930s and 40s.

When FDA created the food standard, “macaroni” was generic term, used like we how we use “pasta.” It is rather old; Thomas Jefferson served his guest macaroni and had a machine to make it. The V. La Rosa and Sons Macaroni Company not only made the macaroni product, but had a great book with 101 recipes.

After World War II, macaroni started to fall out of use and replaced by “pasta.” For example, the relevant trade group was originally known as the National Macaroni Manufacturers Association, but in 1981, they changed their name to the National Pasta Association.

Except for the food standard in the regulations, not even FDA uses “macaroni product;” they call the product “pasta.” The regulation for serving sizes does not have a product named “macaroni product,” but it does for “pasta.” Perhaps more telling is that FDA established an enforcement guidance for “enriched macaroni products” that failed to meet the standard – usually when the product does not have enough iron. FDA named this guidance: “Detention Without Physical Examination and Surveillance of Enriched Pasta Products for Standard of Identity” (emphasis added).

So not even FDA calls pasta “macaroni product” — perhaps it’s time for FDA to update this regulation…

All the same, have a great National Pasta day next week on October 17!

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