Tag Archives: food regulations

Regulation of the Day 222: Macaroni

According to federal regulations, you may not, in fact, stick a feather in your hat and call it macaroni.

I’m serious. 21 CFR 139, Subpart B, §139.110 defines macaroni as “the class of food each of which is prepared by drying formed units of dough made from semolina, durum flour, farina, flour, or any combination of two or more of these, with water and with or without one or more of the optional ingredients specified in paragraphs (a) (1) to (6), inclusive, of this section.”

If it doesn’t meet that definition, you can’t call it macaroni. Some other anti-feather provisions in federal macaroni policy include:

  • The shape. “Macaroni is the macaroni product the units of which are tube-shaped and more than 0.11 inch but not more than 0.27 inch in diameter.”
  • Spaghetti and Vermicelli are also considered macaroni products. Spaghetti is “tube-shaped or cord-shaped (not tubular) and more than 0.06 inch but not more than 0.11 inch in diameter,” and vermicelli is “cord-shaped (not tubular) and not more than 0.06 inch in diameter.”
  • Egg whites must make up at least 0.5 percent by weight of each noodle, but no more than 2 percent.
  • The protein content of macaroni products is capped at 13 percent.

And Yankee Doodle began to cry.


Regulation of the Day 176: Cooking a Burger

In North Carolina, it is illegal to cook a burger to an internal temperature under 155 degrees. Rare and medium rare burgers are banned from the state’s restaurants. As regulator Larry Michael told AOL News, “According to North Carolina rules, a hamburger is cooked properly when it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit[.] There are no exceptions.”

Actually, there are. People cooking at home can still legally cook there burgers to whatever temperature they like. And a kind of rare burger black market has emerged. Regular customers who have built up a degree of trust with the staff can order a rare burger. But they’ve taken to speaking in code. The server will say that they’ll make the burger as pink as they can, just in case food inspectors are within earshot.

The reason they have to so circumspect is because openly giving customers what they want could cost the owners their restaurant license. Maybe it would be better to let adults set their own risk preferences. I personally prefer my burgers cooked medium. But if someone else wants to order a rare burger and is willing to bear the small risk of catching E. coli, let them. The only loser is the regulator who would have to find a more productive line of work.