The Oddest FDA Warning I've Seen... | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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The Oddest FDA Warning I've Seen... 

Published December 16, 2007 at 3:04 a.m.

It's 2:30 a.m. and I can't sleep, so I'm trolling my Google Reader for interesting stuff with which to amuse myself. What have I found so far? An unusual FDA warning:

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to use 3.5  oz. packages of Swad brand sindoor, an orange  or red powder used in some traditional South Asian Pacific ceremonies that  is applied to the face or scalp...Although the  product was not intended to be sold for food use, its labeling is confusing  and implies that it may be used as food.  The Illinois Department of Public  Health has confirmed two cases of lead poisoning in consumers who used the  product as an ingredient in home cooked meals.  Other uses of the product,including as a cosmetic, can also be dangerous due to the high lead levels."

What did the misleading label say? "SWAD BEST TASTE IN TOWN SINDOOR",  "FORRECIPE IDEAS VISIT OUR WEBSITE." I wonder if the consumers who came down with lead poisoning were Indians who assumed the product was food-safe because of its traditional uses, or Americans who assumed that the pretty red powder was a food dye because of the "recipe ideas" wording on the package?

I couldn't find sindoor on Swad's website, but I did find a bunch of instant Indian meals, and evidence that someone who works at the company is able to clearly communicate about their products in descriptive English. One bit of copy reads: "It’s the age-old dilemma. The pressures of the day and the commitmentsof job and family leave precious little time for the delicatepreparations of the traditional Indian meal...It’s for this exact predicament thatRaja Foods presents the “Easy Entertain” solution. With the robust lineof sumptuous offerings from the SWAD production line, you can virtuallyeliminate the prep time for a stirringly wholesome meal from start tofinish. Guests are satisfied, palates are fulfilled, and the day issaved."

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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose, butcher a pig, make ramen from scratch, and cook a scallop perfectly.


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