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"Frozen dairy dessert"


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Edy's ice cream was on sale at my local supermarket today so I bought a couple of 48-ounce containers. Turns out, nowhere on the container does it say "ice cream." It says "frozen dairy dessert." What's up with that?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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"INGREDIENTS: Whey (Dairy), skim milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, roasted pecans (pecans, coconut oil, butter [cream, salt], salt), maltodextrin, natural flavor, brown sugar (molasses, sugar), salt, butter (cream, salt), Propylene Glycol Monostearate, carrageenan, guar gum, monoglycerides, carob bean gum, soy lecithin"

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I don't think it's the whey itself that makes it a frozen dairy dessert. It's probably that the amount of whey, along with the skim milk, crowds out other things -- most especially milkfat -- and that legally disqualifies it as ice cream.

FDA ice cream regulations here.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
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Eat more chicken skin.

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The plain-ish flavors, like vanilla and chocolate, say "ice cream" on the packaging. The more flavored flavors, like butter pecan, don't. Weird.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Weird to us, but not weird to the producer. There's a convoluted formula in the regs regarding the ratios of milkfat, dairy solids, and non-dairy solids including "bulky" flavorings. So you add, for example, pecans, and you alter the applicability of the formula.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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The plain-ish flavors, like vanilla and chocolate, say "ice cream" on the packaging. The more flavored flavors, like butter pecan, don't. Weird.

Right--the milkfat content of the base is probably as close to the legal limit for calling it ice cream as they can make it. So, as dave says, if you add bulky stuff, that lowers the percentage for the entire product, even though the base itself may be the same. So they can't call it ice cream. It seems weird because the base still qualifies, but if the FDA let it pass, then producers would clearly be motivated to load up their products with any bulky item that was cheaper than the dairy ingredient. Which they do anyway, but at least they have to call it something different.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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I'm guessing the rules were made well before it became trendy to make ice creams loaded up with tons and tons of stuff. I blame Ben and Jerry. :unsure: Of course, I guess their stuff is still legally "ice cream" since the base is already has a lot higher butterfat content.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Just goes to show you how utterly useless the regs are. I buy Edy's once a week and have never noticed and I'm somebody who pays a lot of attention to my food. Most people never notice and even if they did the transaction costs (i.e. spending time to look up and decipher the FDA regs) are too high to be worth researching the difference. FDA regs like this are supposed to better inform the consumer but in fact they're just arcane rules that nobody except the FDA and the producers understand.

Edited by BadRabbit (log)
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Is it just me, or is 'frozen dairy dessert' right down there in the depressing category with 'processed cheese food'?

I took a look at the offerings in the dairy cases at three supermarkets around here today: I don't think any would meet the standards for 'ice cream', but since pretty much all frozen, ice-cream-like desserts are called is ('ice'), the differences among them aren't identified in the name.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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...FDA regs like this are supposed to better inform the consumer...

Do you have any evidence to support this hypothesis? :laugh:

No evidence of a reg actually doing so but there is evidence that it's their stated purpose.

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Just goes to show you how utterly useless the regs are. I buy Edy's once a week and have never noticed

This is the regulator's fault?

No but it's the reality of how little people pay attention to this stuff and that says something about whether we really need to waste resources on these types of regs (both governmentally and on the producers side).

As I said in my post, actually noticing that it says something different is just the first step in the regulations actually being informative. A consumer still has to find the relevant reg and then work to comprehend it. Your average person would not only be unlikely to know where to look for this information; they would also be unlikely to understand it even once they found it.

Edited by BadRabbit (log)
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No but it's the reality of how little people pay attention to this stuff and that says something about whether we really need to waste resources on these types of regs (both governmentally and on the producers side).

As I said in my post, actually noticing that it says something different is just the first step in the regulations actually being informative. A consumer still has to find the relevant reg and then work to comprehend it. Your average person would not only be unlikely to know where to look for this information; they would also be unlikely to understand it even once they found it.

Actually I disagree. Consumers do not actually need to understand the regulations. The information on the labeling is supposed to be comprehensible as it is. You don't need to know the regulations about nutritional labeling to read the labels, do you? I agree that the labeling is far from perfect. Food processors expend a great deal of lobbying effort to make sure they have some weasel room (for example "zero fat" really means "less than half a percent"). The FDA is often too compliant to industry concerns. Do you think there should be content standards? The FDA says ice cream needs to be 10 percent milkfat to be called ice cream. Not a particularly high standard, but the industry fought it for decades. The producers wanted a lower standard. In the early years of the 20th century, when advances in refrigeration increased ice cream sales, commercial ice cream was often atrociously bad--stuff that wouldn't be legal for sale today. Hell, if they could get away with it, they'd market ice cream as a health food (which was actually done in the 1950s). I mean, really--would you prefer to go into a store and have no idea at all what was really in the package?

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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I used to buy a lot of Edy's and I started reading the ingredients when I noticed the absence of "ice cream" on the labels, sometime this past year. I will have to look again when I am at the store but, the way I remember it, the flavors that my children wanted had whey, and some sort of vegetable oil, and that was when I said "ick!" and bought a different brand, something that was still "ice cream". The flavors in question surely had cookie dough or peanut butter cups or similar junk mixed in, so maybe I was looking at an ingredient that was part of the add-in, rather than the base, but I decided to take a stand against products that can't even meet the FDA definition of "ice cream", which I believe is not really a very high bar. I am still faithful to Edy's "vanilla bean" (ice cream!), even though they have tried to distract me with several alternate varieties of vanilla, which are probably cheaper to produce.

I shouldn't, and don't, eat as much frozen dessert substances as I used to, but teenagers seem to have a minimum daily requirement, so it's necessary to have something in the freezer.

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...so I bought a couple of 48-ounce containers....

Also, those used to be half-gallon containers and then I think they were 52 oz for a while, but I guess that's probably another topic.

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Just goes to show you how utterly useless the regs are...FDA regs like this are supposed to better inform the consumer but in fact they're just arcane rules that nobody except the FDA and the producers understand.

BadRabbit, there are a great many corporate shareholders who rely upon our belief that FDA regulation is useless and ought to be dispensed with. Then they can put white chalk in a carton with some sugar and some lecithin and call it "product".

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Just goes to show you how utterly useless the regs are...FDA regs like this are supposed to better inform the consumer but in fact they're just arcane rules that nobody except the FDA and the producers understand.

BadRabbit, there are a great many corporate shareholders who rely upon our belief that FDA regulation is useless and ought to be dispensed with. Then they can put white chalk in a carton with some sugar and some lecithin and call it "product".

True dat ! As someone who spent a career in Quality Assurance/Regulatory Affairs in a regulated industry (pharmaceuticals), I can attest to the fact that without regs, even though the "average Joe consumer" can't understand them, we'd be eating/drinking/ingesting a whole load 'o' crap we shouldn't. Or would want to !

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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