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Hummus Manufacturer Asks FDA To Regulate Hummus

Sabra is asking the FDA to establish guidelines for what actually constitutes hummus. The company says it's trying to protect the food's "purity."
Posted at 5:58 PM, May 28, 2014

Stop what you're doing! That hummus you're eating might not actually be hummus.

Is it made of chickpeas, tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper? Yes? Then it's definitely hummus. But hummus manufacturer Sabra says anything other than that just ain't hummus. (Via Flickr / AamerJaved)

The company filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration calling for the agency to establish a "standard of identity" for hummus in the U.S., including which ingredients and how much of each a product must contain to be called "hummus."

"The marketing of a 'hummus' product made from legumes other than chickpeas is akin to the marketing of guacamole made with fruit other than avocados."

That would stop competitors such as Eat Well Embrace Life from marketing dips with black beans, lentils, edamame or any other legume as "hummus."

The FDA has established similar definitions for products ranging from ketchup to peanut butter and white chocolate.

The petition claims Sabra wants to protect "the purity of hummus in the marketplace," which a Slate writer calls out as a teensy bit hypocritical, considering the brand sells no less than 14 flavors of hummus including pesto, spinach and artichoke and jalapeño — none of which are really ​"pure hummus."

According to its director of marketing, Sabra is currently the hummus leader, controlling 65 percent of the market. That market is worth more than $600 million in sales each year.

And according to Businessweek, hummus has just an 18 percent household penetration in the U.S., so there's plenty of room to grow.