It's finally time to deregulate... pie

When President Trump was sworn into office he promised that he would be rolling back multiple regulations for every new one that makes it onto the books. Thus far he’s made good on that promise, rolling back suffocating regulations in any number of areas. But now it appears this his people at the FDA are finally ready to tackle the 800-pound gorilla in the room. It’s time to roll back regulations on pie. Frozen cherry pie, to be specific. Oh, and French dressing, too. (Associated Press)

President Donald Trump may soon be able to claim a sweet victory for his deregulation push, with officials preparing to get rid of the decades-old rules for frozen cherry pies.

Emails show the Food and Drug Administration planned to start the process for revoking the standard for frozen cherry pies this week, followed by a similar revocation of the standard for French dressing. Plans to get rid of the obscure rules had been tucked into the Trump’s administration’s deregulation agenda .

Standards for an array of foods including cottage cheese and canned peas were put in place decades ago partly to ensure a level of quality. They spell out how products with specific names can be made, including ingredients that are required or not allowed. The rules for frozen cherry pies say they must be 25% cherries by weight with no more than 15% of the cherries being blemished.

Sure, this sounds kind of dumb on the surface. But when you look at the regulation in question you do have to wonder how it wound up on the books. A cherry pie has to be composed of 25% cherries by weight. And no more than 15% of the cherries can be “blemished.” That doesn’t sound particularly punishing to the manufacturers and I’m sure you don’t want to open up a skimpy pie after you take it home, but why just cherry pie? There are all sorts of pies out there on the market and they don’t have similar regulations. Why should your pumpkin pie be made of less than 25% pumpkin?

The reality is that we already have a regulator for such products and it’s the public. The government has a role in ensuring that companies producing food employ sterile conditions and don’t put any harmful agents in their products, but that’s about it. If someone is selling cherry pies with too few cherries, people will start buying them from somebody else and the stingy company will go out of business. Welcome to the free market.

The same goes for French dressing. Why do we have dressing regulations that only apply to a specific flavor? I’ve gotten fairly dodgy thousand islands dressing in my day.

The one regulation they’re looking at that needs to stay on the books is the one covering milk. Currently, the FDA says that milk “must come from a cow.” That sounds right to me. I suppose you can use the word for goat’s milk (or any other animal) so long as you specify the species. But there is no such thing as “soy milk” or “rice milk” or “almond milk.” None of those plants are capable of producing milk.

As for me, I’ll stick with apple pie. And we’ll make it ourselves.