Love is not an Ingredient, Says FDA

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Warning letters by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can be interesting to read. A recent one, from the end of September, is more interesting than most.

The facilities of Nashoba Brook Bakery, located in Concord, MA, were inspected by the FDA and a number of violations were found and documented. Actually, to be clear, Nashoba Brook Bakery was found to be - in one phrase - a hot mess. 

Here, we summarize some of the many (many) findings in the warning letter from the FDA. They range from cleanliness and sanitation to bugs running around. They also include various violations of keeping allergens separated from one another. The most interesting violation, perhaps, can be found at the end of the list. It stands alone and you'll see why when you get there.  

Nashoba Brook Bakery 

  • Failed to conduct food manufacturing under conditions necessary to minimize the potential for the growth of microorganisms
  • Found remnants of Pepper Jack dough (a dairy allergen) on parts of the stainless steel mixing bowl that was supposedly cleaned and ready for use prior to the production of non-dairy Sourdough dough
  • Mishandling of color-coded barrels designated for use with different allergens including tree nuts and cheese, with apparent dough residue inside and out, and stacked inside one another. 
  • Dirty bread loaf molds, wooden peels, canvas conveyor mats, rolling metal wire cooling racks, and ovens prior to production or during change-over in between different allergen products. 
  • No procedure or production schedule to ensure cleaning and sanitation is done before production or in between changes to prevent cross-contamination of different allergen products.
  • Failed to appropriately clean equipment and utensils and finished product containers
  • An encrusted buildup of brown colored debris on the metal screen of the dough mixer that is positioned over all raw dough mixed during its operation.
  • Plastic barrels, barrel lids, totes and tote lids used to hold and transport raw dough with apparent dough residue buildup. One barrel had an approximate 1" dough clump from a different day’s production still stuck in a crack. 
  • An approximately 1" long crawling insect underneath exposed ready-to-eat foods in the pastry area
  • An employee was wearing a blue plastic bracelet while working with raw dough. The bracelet came into repeated contact with raw dough and dough varieties.
  • An employee wore a nose ring and earrings while handling and shaping raw dough.
  • Drinking beverages were in areas where food may be exposed or where equipment or utensils are washed

But, the violation that appeared in the very long list of violations, placed under "misbranding" which means calling a product something that it is not, was the inclusion of a particular ingredient in the Nashoba Granola - Love. 

The FDA writes,

"Ingredients required to be declared on the label or labeling of food must be listed by their common or usual name. "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." 

I can only imagine, after the laundry list of violations found by the FDA at this facility, trying to come up with the language to express that a company cannot list "love" as an ingredient in granola. Thank you, FDA, for letting Nashoba Brook Bakery know that love cannot go into food - and neither should bugs.