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Omnivore Food Blog By Suzanne Podhaizer

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December 16, 2007

The Oddest FDA Warning I've Seen...

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",  "FOR RECIPE 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 commitments of job and family leave precious little time for the delicate preparations of the traditional Indian meal...It’s for this exact predicament that Raja Foods presents the “Easy Entertain” solution. With the robust line of sumptuous offerings from the SWAD production line, you can virtually eliminate the prep time for a stirringly wholesome meal from start to finish. Guests are satisfied, palates are fulfilled, and the day is saved."

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