To quote Sir James Paul McCartney (CH, MBE), “Can’t buy me love, everybody tells me so / Can’t buy me love, no no no, no.” You also can’t, according to the Food and Drug Administration, list “love” as an actual ingredient in your granola.
The FDA recently sent a warning letter to Nashoba Bakery in Massachusetts, reeling off a number of apparent violations observed during a recent inspection — including improperly cleaned mixing bowls and ingredient barrels; debris on various surfaces and items; indications of insect presence — but the one that jumps out involves the claim that the bakery misbranded one of its products by including a non-existent ingredient on the label.
“Your Nashoba Granola label lists ingredient ‘Love.’ Ingredients required to be declared on the label or labeling of food must be listed by their common or usual name,” the FDA warns. “‘Love’ is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient.”
The chief executive of Nashoba says the FDA’s admonishment “just felt so George Orwell.”
“I really like that we list ‘love’ in the granola,” CEO John Gates told Bloomberg, noting that customers ask what makes it so good, and it’s nice to say there’s love in it.
“Situations like that where the government is telling you you can’t list ‘love’ as an ingredient, because it might be deceptive, just feels so silly,” Gates says.
While Gates might have an understandable argument about the whole “love” thing, his company still has a lot of more serious offenses to answer for, per the FDA notice.
As mentioned in the letter above, the letter cites instances of dirty mixing dirty mixing bowls and utensils and items with potential allergen contaminations. For example, a “crawling insect” underneath ready-to-eat foods in the pastry area, and “approximately five flies” in the ready-to-eat cooling area and processing area, “all near or on food.”
The FDA inspector also noted that Nashoba “failed to have employees remove unsecured jewelry or other objects which might fall into food, equipment, or containers.”
“This is an example of a company whose actions — or lack of actions — put their customers’ health at unnecessary risk,” an FDA spokesperson said in a statement to Consumerist. “The information about ‘love’ as a listed ingredient was included, but is not among the agency’s top concerns, and focusing only on that particular violation detracts from the multitude of serious violations reflected in this letter.”
The FDA says it expects the company to “correct the serious violations found on FDA’s inspection, as noted in the warning letter.”
The company plans to reply to the FDA and will comply with the agency, but Gates tells Bloomberg that some of the requirements “don’t sit right” with him.