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November 23, 2017

Regulating Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  For millions of Americans that means enjoying a turkey feast with family and friends.  But when it comes to our Thanksgiving meal, did you know that there are countless regulations on the books that dictate everything from the legal definition of a bread “roll” to the amount of “allowable defects” for certain potato spuds? For instance, there are 345 rules in the federal register pertaining to turkey that cover everything from the expected like guidance for food preparation and food safety, to specifications for preparing their feed to rules outlining how to transport them.

Here are a few more Thanksgiving-themed regulations. (h/t Daily Signal.)

Bread/Rolls. Title 21, Part 136, requires anything labeled as “bread” in a bakery to weigh one-half pound or more after cooling. To be legally called a “roll,” each unit must weigh less than one-half pound after cooling.

Potatoes. Title 7, Part 51.1546, dictates the proportion of allowable defects among specific grades of spuds. Potatoes graded as “U.S. No. 1” may not exceed the following tolerances at the point of shipping: 5 percent for external defects, 5 percent for internal defects, and not more than a total of 1 percent for potatoes that are frozen or affected by soft rot or wet breakdown. An entirely different set of tolerances apply to U.S. No. 1 potatoes while en route or upon reaching the destination, while similar standards are also set for “commercial” grade potatoes, “U.S. No. 2” potatoes, and “off-size” potatoes.

Cornmeal (for stuffing). Title 21, Part 137.275, distinguishes yellow cornmeal from cleaned white cornmeal: “Yellow cornmeal conforms to the definition and standard of identity prescribed by §137.250 for white cornmeal except that cleaned yellow corn is used instead of cleaned white corn.”

Green beans. Title 21, Part 155.120, defined green beans and wax beans as “the foods prepared from succulent pods of fresh green bean or wax bean plants conforming to the characteristics of Phaseolus vulgaris L. and Phaseolus coccineus L. The beans shall be one of the following distinct color types: (a) Green; or (b) Wax. The varietal type is either (a) beans having a width not greater than 1 1/2 times the thickness of the bean; or (b) beans having a width greater than 1 1/2 times the thickness of the bean.”

Cranberries. Title 15, Part 241.2, Lays out the specific allowable dimensions for a cranberry barrel as opposed to a barrel permitted to hold other vegetables. “Any barrel having the dimensions specified for a standard barrel for cranberries in section 1 of the standard-barrel law, or any subdivision thereof having the contents specified in §241.1(b), regardless of its form or dimensions, is a legal standard barrel for cranberries or a legal subdivision thereof. No other barrel or subdivision in barrel form is a legal container for cranberries.”

Pecans. Title 7, Part 65, requires “country of origin” labeling for pecans and a variety of other foods. The declaration may not contain abbreviations or flags. However, the adjectival form of the name of a country may be used to identify the country of origin—provided the adjectival form of the name does not appear with other words so as to refer to a kind or species of product.