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FDA Frozen Dessert Guidelines

by James Holloway, studioD

In order to protect public health and ensure food quality, the Food and Drug Administration regulates the production and sale of many different kinds of food products. Among these are frozen desserts, a broad category encompassing ice cream, frozen yogurt, frozen custard and more. FDA rules and guidelines govern many different aspects of frozen dessert production, sale and consumption.

Defining Desserts

FDA regulations define what each type of frozen dessert is. In the case of ice cream, for example, they determine what types of desserts can legally be sold as ice cream. Ice cream must contain a certain percentage of milk fat and milk solids, have a certain density and contain certain ingredients. If these guidelines are broken, the product cannot be called ice cream. For instance, if egg yolks in the product exceed a certain quantity, it must be called "frozen custard" or a similar name rather than simply "ice cream." Other types of frozen dessert are similarly regulated.

A Watchful Eye on the Frozen Treats Industry

In addition to defining different types of frozen desserts, the FDA regulates the ways in which they can be produced. FDA rules cover how dairy products used in frozen desserts should be pasteurized, the sanitation process for production equipment, how ingredients should be shipped, and more. The FDA also regulates the ingredients and additives that can be used to sweeten or stabilize frozen desserts.

From Factory to Freezer

FDA regulations cover not only food itself but the packaging in which retailers sell it. For instance, the proportion of different kind of flavorings used in ice cream determines how the flavor can be described. Even the size of the lettering used for these descriptions on the packaging is established by FDA regulation. The FDA also regulates how retailers store the frozen desserts that they sell. It also, together with other government departments, publishes advice for consumers on how to store frozen foods such as frozen desserts.

On the Table

Once frozen desserts leave the retailer, they pass outside the FDA's remit. However, two other government agencies, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, publish "Dietary Guidelines for Americans," which advises Americans on healthy eating. The Dietary Guidelines report that dairy desserts, which includes most frozen desserts, are one of the top 25 sources of calories for Americans of all ages. The Guidelines recommend reducing consumption of both dairy and grain-based desserts, which typically have high calorie values but contain few nutrients.

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.

Photo Credits

  • Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images