The phrase “F in FDA” trended on Twitter on Monday in response to some Pink Saucy remarks made on TikTok. Chef Pii was recently fielding questions live on the social media platform about the food product that’s she’s been marketing and selling. She’s named the food product Pink Sauce, presumably because it is pink and a sauce. When someone asked Chef Pii whether her Pink Sauce was FDA-approved, Chef Pii provided a “what do you mean” answer seen in the video accompanying this tweet by @derekarnellx:
As you can see, her response consisted of, “What do you mean FDA-approved? I don’t sell medical products.” She continued with “The Pink Sauce is not a medical product. The Pink Sauce don’t contribute to your health.” This response then prompted a whole lot of tweets that included “F in FDA” such as:
Umm, medical products aren’t the only things regulated by the FDA. The F in FDA does not stand for “farmaceutical.” Rather, it stands for “food” as in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, the FDA has a “How to Start a Food Business” website, which states that the FDA “regulates all foods and food ingredients introduced into or offered for sale in interstate commerce.” In other words, if you are going to sell food across different states, you’ll need to be fully aware of and follow FDA requirements. The only exceptions are those foods covered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), such as meat, poultry, and certain processed egg products. So if, for example, you’re planning on selling edible meat tuxedos by mail to people in another state, you should check with what the USDA requires.
The FDA’s purview should include any food product because any food product can affect your health. That’s why it’s not a good idea to eat 417,294 pizza rolls in one sitting or brush your teeth with ketchup. Something like the Pink Sauce has the potential of affecting your health in all kinds of ways.
So it’s not surprising that Chef Pii has been getting a number of health-related questions about her Pink Sauce, as I covered on July 24 for Forbes. These have included folks wondering about why the sauce has seemed to have different hues at different times, how each bottle can possibly have 444 servings as listed on its label, why the heck “vinger” is on the bottle’s ingredient list, and whether shipping a sauce with milk in it is safe without refrigeration. This may not have been what Chef Pii wanted when she put the word “infamous” on the marketing materials for the Pink Sauce:
While a food manufacturer doesn’t necessarily have to get all of its products “FDA-approved,” the “How to Start a Food Business” website does remind everyone that “If you are thinking about opening a food business, there are many regulatory requirements that you will need to meet.”
For example, you can’t simply go ahead and manufacture, process, pack, or hold any food that will be consumed by other humans or animals just anywhere. You may have to register any such facilities with FDA first. Sure, some facilities may be exempt from such registration requirements under 21 CFR 1.226, such as farms, retail food establishments, and restaurants. But even if you claim that your apartment is officially a farm because you’ve filled your roommate’s bed with chickens, it’s better to make sure whether you have to register your facilities before moving full steamed chicken ahead.
The FDA has facility registration requirements in place is to prevent what the character Kramer did in a episode of the TV show Seinfeld: make a salad while he was showering. Yeah, a luffa or a loofah may be a vegetable but that doesn’t mean that other vegetables or any other food for that matter belong in the shower or anywhere else in the bathroom. The words “where did I leave that cucumber” shouldn’t be followed with the words “toilet seat.” Such practices wouldn’t be following current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations that food manufacturers need to follow.
Then there are the recordkeeping and labeling requirements. Saying “trust me” isn’t enough. Your food business needs to maintain proper records that the FDA or other regulatory agencies may request to see at any time. And you’ve got to label your food in ways that meet legal food labeling requirements. Such labels can’t simply say something like “There be stuff in here” or “Yummy.” Instead, the labels should accurately list relevant nutritional information and identify any major food allergens that may be present. After all, you don’t want someone with a life-threatening peanut allergy consuming your product if it may have peanuts in them. And any time your food product may lead to serious adverse health consequences such as death, which would be a pretty darn serious health consequence, you’ve got to report it to the FDA’s Reportable Food Registry. What they didn’t show in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie was Willy Wonka filling out all kinds of FDA forms for things such as turning a girl into a big blueberry.
The FDA requirements aren’t the only requirements that you’ll have to follow. Assuming that you haven’t started your food business in the Quantum Realm, you’ll have to follow other federal, state, and local requirements that apply to your location and situation. To determine which requirements may apply, it’s a good idea to speak to the FDA District Office before selling any food product. You can also determine which state and local regulatory agencies you should contact by looking them up on the directory provided by the Association of Food and Drug Officials.
All of these requirements are in place to try to protect the consumer’s health. Note the word “try.” Yoda may have said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” However, if you are purchasing any food product, don’t assume that all food manufacturers always follow existing safety regulations. Without more funding and resources, the FDA can’t possibly ensure that everyone is following the rules. After all, the F in FDA doesn’t stand for fantasy.