There are some bizarre legal definitions for common foods. For example, we've seen that the definition of a sandwich
was under dispute because a burrito place was encroaching on a sandwich shop in a shopping mall food court. That case decided that a burrito was not
a sandwich, but food experts don't all agree on that point. Here are a few other cases of defining some foods legally and not with your gut.
- Unilever is suing a vegan "mayo" company because it doesn't use eggs in its product. The startup Hampton Creek may be benefiting from some publicity here, and its "Just Mayo" mayonnaise-like spread will likely sell more now. In the end, though, both Unilever and Hampton Creek (and any other condiment makers) may need to be more explicit about ingredients and make a clear distinction between mayo and mayo dressing. [url]
- In 1893, the Supreme Court decided that, under customs law, a tomato is a vegetable, not a fruit. A fruit importer was trying to get tomatoes into the US without having to pay the 10% import tax, so against biological definitions, the court ruled that vegetables were "usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats ... and not, like fruits generally, as dessert" -- and tomatoes were therefore a vegetable in everyday experience. [url]
- In 1981, the US Department of Agriculture had 90 days to come up with new standards for subsidized school lunch programs. The resulting new rules almost considered ketchup to be a vegetable, but the ketchup-counts-as-a-veggie policy was not adopted. [url]
If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post