The most surprising thing about eggs
You know what's up, but you just can't define it. (That's an opportunity.) Also, 7 other things worth your time.
Today’s newsletter is made of eggs.
So is your car. So is your house. So is the computer or phone or iPad you’re reading this on.
They’re all made of eggs.
I can say that without fear of contradiction because of Title 21, Chapter I, Subchapter B, Part §160.100 of the US Code of Federal Regulations, which is entitled “Eggs,” and which reads in full:
“No regulation shall be promulgated fixing and establishing a reasonable definition and standard of identity for the food commonly known as eggs.”
Under the current guidelines, an egg plus a bunch of additives could still be called an "egg"—and so could a crumpled-up piece of paper filled with cigarette butts. At least in theory.
I know, it’s all kind of absurd. And it’s why Panera Bread petitioned the FDA to crack down on egg misnomers a while back. (Sorry about the minor pun; you should see the long list of bad jokes I edited out of today’s newsletter.)
For example, Panera suggested the FDA should declare that an egg combined with "additives, such as butter-type flavors, gums, and added color," could not be called an egg.
Instead, it would have to be called an "egg product," or an "egg patty."
Which sounds a little less appetizing—and which, not at all coincidentally, is what some of its competitors serve in their egg sandwiches.
Now, those “egg patties” may not contain crumpled-up paper, but I’m guessing Panera wouldn’t mind you imagining that, because it announced its FDA petition while touting the launch of its new breakfast sandwiches, which it said featured "100% real eggs."
With the FDA's definition as it is, fast-food breakfast places are free to "buy precooked, frozen egg patties to reheat onsite, or they cook their eggs from bulk liquid egg products," according to the Washington Post.
(McDonald's, apparently, is one of the exceptions, using "fresh-cracked eggs in its Egg McMuffins.")
Plus, some "eggs" also "frequently contain preservatives to extend shelf-life, colorants to approve appearance, and starches and gums to help the liquid flow evenly on hot pans."
Those are just details, however. Panera probably doesn't want you to get bogged down in the details.
Anyway, the chain’s efforts were for naught, at least in terms of legal effect. Its petition was originally filed in 2018, and as of yesterday, the Code of Federal Regulations remains unchanged.
But what I like about this story is that Panera almost certainly knew it had no chance of getting the FDA to act.
For one thing, the competitors who serve egg-plus-other-stuff sandwiches are pretty open about it. And nobody is saying there's a public health issue to worry about here.
But that would seem to be fine with Panera, since simply by filing the petition they started a debate that makes their menu look better and simultaneously made their competitors' seem suspect, or maybe even a little gross.
"When a consumer orders an 'egg,' they expect to get an egg," Sara Burnett, director of wellness and food policy at Panera, told The Washington Post, adding, "We hope the FDA seriously considers our petition. But even if they don't... we're happy with the conversation we've created."
7 other things worth your time’
A defensive President Joe Biden on Tuesday called the US operation to extract more than 120,000 Americans, Afghans, and other allies from Afghanistan to end a 20-year war an “extraordinary success,” though more than 100 Americans and thousands of others were left behind. Here’s the full text. (NYT)
The Wall Street Journal says it’s located an interpreter still stuck in Afghanistan who was involved in a 2008 rescue of none other than President Biden, back when he was a senator touring Iraq with Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Chuck Hagel and their helicopter made an emergency landing in a snowstorm. The interpreter, identified only as Mohammed, stayed behind in Afghanistan after he realized that only he, but not his family, would be allowed into the Kabul airport. “We will get you out,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said after a WSJ reporter read Mohammed’s message to the president. “We will honor your service.” (WSJ, $)
Tractors finally get the Tesla treatment: A crop of electric startups are hitting the $292 billion heavy machinery market just in time for harvest. (Bloomberg)
About 1 in 4 bosses say they’ve fired someone for something stupid they did on Zoom calls during the pandemic. (Bloomberg)
A Louisiana man is missing after an alligator displaced by Hurricane Ida attacked him near his flooded home on Tuesday. (The Guardian)
A New York couple called animal control to remove their pet cougar after realizing that the 10-month-old cat didn’t make a good apartment pet. (The Guardian)
The Harlem Hellfighters, one of the most decorated yet overlooked infantry units in World War I, will collectively receive a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal 100 years after their service. (CNN)
Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay. I first wrote about this Panera egg business on Inc.com, and I remembered it recently (and looked up whether the CFR had been changed) while traveling with my family and stopping, as we always do on the road, at Panera. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here.