Regulation of the Day 222: Macaroni

by Ryan Young on July 2, 2012 · 9 comments

in Regulation, Regulation of the Day

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According to federal regulations, you may not, in fact, stick a feather in your hat and call it macaroni.

I’m serious. At 21 CFR 139, Subpart B, § 139.110, macaroni is defined as “the class of food each of which is prepared by drying formed units of dough made from semolina, durum flour, farina, flour, or any combination of two or more of these, with water and with or without one or more of the optional ingredients specified in paragraphs (a) (1) to (6), inclusive, of this section.”

If it doesn’t meet that definition, you can’t call it macaroni. Some other anti-feather provisions in federal macaroni policy include:

  • The shape. “Macaroni is the macaroni product the units of which are tube-shaped and more than 0.11 inch but not more than 0.27 inch in diameter.”
  • Spaghetti and Vermicelli are also considered macaroni products. Spaghetti is “tube-shaped or cord-shaped (not tubular) and more than 0.06 inch but not more than 0.11 inch in diameter,” and vermicelli is “cord-shaped (not tubular) and not more than 0.06 inch in diameter.”
  • Egg whites must make up at least 0.5 percent by weight of each noodle, but no more than 2 percent.
  • The protein content of macaroni products is capped at 13 percent.

And Yankee Doodle began to cry.

John Fembup July 3, 2012 at 6:29 am

“And Yankee Doodle began to cry.”

You mean, this is not funny? It’s not a joke?

The laffs (for me, anyway) begin with “any combination of two or more of these, with water and with or without one or more of the optional ingredients specified in paragraphs (a) (1) to (6), inclusive, of this section.”

But the laffs stop and the seriousness sets in when it dawned on me this is not a joke.

It’s actually part of the United States Code of Federal Regulations. This means federal regulators actually drafted, debated, and finalized this Reg; it means there is some federal law, somewhere, that the regulators cite as the “authority” to issue this regulation in the first place; and of course it means that the time required for the bureaucracy to perfect this regulatory gem was paid for with our taxes.

And it also dawns on me that we will experience exactly the same kind of mind-boggling and intrusive minutiae when the federales have written the regs under the Affordable Care Act.

But the PPACA regs will have a truly serious impact on us. They will define the conditions under which we as citizens will be permitted to seek medical care, and will direct our physicians in the types of medical care we will be permitted to actually, you know, receive. Until the end of time.

I can barely contain my enthusiasm.

Jackie July 4, 2012 at 1:26 am

OF COURSE THERE IS A LAW. Otherwise, some idiot will manufacture some goop, stick a label on it, and call it “pizza”. All food has a formal, regulatory definition. HOW IS THIS NEW? No, really. How can people be surprised and SHOCKED that we actually have food regulations, what things are allowed to contain, and what we are ingesting in our bodies is INDEED dried semolina and water? Please.

Harold Cockerill July 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm

And if the purchaser isn’t satisfied that what he or she has bought isn’t what is on the label then they return to the point of purchase and complain. They also never buy another product from that manufacturer again. The company goes out of business. That’s how freedom works. Protect me from people that use guns to take my money. The market deals with people that sell bad products.

Now if we could just figure an effective way to deal with governments that sell bad products.

Jim_in_StL July 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I’m hoping you are being facetious and don’t really believe what you just wrote but if you do: Yes, somebody will buy the goop once then tell all their friends and it will disappear from the shelf.Bbt, the supermarket would never have put it there in the first place because they value the repeat business of their customers.

Jeff Gauch July 4, 2012 at 9:26 am

“And Yankee Doodle began to cry.”

Why? Regulations like these mean that Mr. Doodle can go to the store and pick up a box of macaroni and be fairly certain about what he’s getting. He doesn’t have to bring his calipers to the Piggly-Wiggly to make sure the box of spaghetti is actually thick enough for his purposes. He doesn’t have to research to make sure Barilla doesn’t use ground rat hair in its recipie. That means he has more time to be handy with the girls.

Its not like people are forbidden from making pasta with regular flour or more than 13% protein, they just can’t call it macaroni.

Andy July 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm

@John: The extension of this concept to Obamacare is EXACTLY, IMHO, the right way to read this.

@Jamie & Jeff: There is HUGE difference between regulating safe food conditions and defining what “macaroni” is or what a “burrito” is. There are literaly millions of “Standards of Identity” written into the food code. Creating standards to ensure that food is safe (which by the way, its impossible to be 100% sure that every bite of food you eat is free from pathogens or other harmful items) can be, I think, defended as a reasonable use of government resources. Defining to the hundreth of an inch what is or isn’t macaroni and millions of other foods is, I think, not defensible use of government resources.

@Jeff: your argument does get bonus points for considring YankeeDoodle’s time for being handy. :)

Happy 4th! Enjoy your “Hot Dog”s!

Susan July 5, 2012 at 4:06 pm

There’s probably some little man in a basement office, making a gazillion dollars, coming up with this bs.

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