What The FDA's Revised French Dressing Rules Mean For Your Salad

If you peruse the condiments aisle of your local grocery store in search of French dressing, you'll find two options. No matter the brand, the bottles are either labeled "French Dressing" or "Imitation French Dressing." After a recent announcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, the imitation kind will soon no longer exist (via Washington Post). That's because the agency has decided to lift its longstanding regulations on the product.

Previously, French dressing was required to be at least 35% vegetable oil and contain either vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice. Salt, tomato, and spices were also permitted, though not required. Anything that strayed from these guidelines couldn't legally be sold as French dressing. All fat-free or low-calorie French dressings with less than 35% vegetable oil therefore had to be labeled as imitation French dressing.

Now that won't be the case anymore. According to The New York Times, back in 1998, The Association for Dressings and Sauces petitioned for the FDA to revisit these guidelines, arguing that it would benefit both companies and consumers to be able to tweak recipes in order to provide more flavor and dietary-related options. Decades later, the FDA has finally agreed.

How will French dressing change?

If you're a fan of French dressing, you're one of the few left. Professor Ken Albala, a food historian at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California told The New York Times that the popularity of French dressing is at an all-time low because of the growing number of trendier options. The FDA's recent deregulation means dressing companies have a chance at revamping an outdated product and giving it a chance to thrive again.

The product listing for French dressing on the Wish-bone website is evidence enough. It has a customer rating of 2.1, with hundreds of comments such as "This stuff is always sitting on the shelves fully stocked at all grocery stores." Another even described it as "mayo's reject cousin." Wish-bone responds to nearly every single comment, apologizing and promising to share feedback with their team. But now that there are no longer any FDA guidelines to adhere to, the brand is finally able to change their recipe without limitations. And as a result, perhaps you'll actually want to put French dressing on your salad again.