Macaroni. Spaghetti. Vermicelli. If you were to take the US government’s word for it, the list of official pasta shapes ends there.
Enter the National Pasta Association, leading trade org for the American pasta industry. (And yes, they accept applications from those “with an interest in the development of the pasta industry,” which yum and check.)
When the group gathered in Florida last week, leaders relayed progress in their efforts to rewrite the federal definition of pasta, locked in place for decades.
Establishing a noodle world order
In 1939, the FDA started maintaining rigorous definitions of many food products, from cheese to peanut butter to canned fruit. And yes, pasta.
These hard-to-edit regulations — called SOI (standards of identity) — protect consumer expectations, ensuring the safety and uniformity of foods’ ingredients and production processes.
Decades later, the agency is revisiting hundreds of SOI; the pasta enthusiasts of NPA were more than ready for the moment.
Their wish list includes: updates around enriched foods, changing the limits of vitamin and mineral content, and more clarification on what is — and isn’t — officially a “noodle.”
- Also: Shapes. The NPA recognizes 600+ pasta shapes, a far cry from the three established in the FDR era.
The results can yield a pretty penne
There’s far more than semantics on the line. Per NPA, a changed SOI will foster innovation for pasta manufacturers.
This would be a boon for the continually growing US pasta segment, estimated to bring in $8.91B in revenue this year.
BTW: This process takes time. It took more than a year for the FDA to accept the Association for Dressings and Sauces’ petition to scrap the SOI for French dressing; frozen cherry pie standards have spent over two years in purgatory.
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