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25 Place Names and the USDA Rules for Their Use on Food Labels

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One of the jobs of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is to protect consumers by ensuring that food labels are accurate and not misleading. So it generally requires that when a product is described with a place name, e.g., Virginia Ham, it should actually come from that place. However, things aren’t always that simple. Some place names are simply a convenient way to refer to a type of food: We don’t expect that Swiss Cheese really comes from Switzerland, and we accept that certain adjectives—Italian, Chinese, Thai—name a certain food style or flavor profile apart from geographical origin.

The FSIS guidelines state that you can use a place name when a product doesn’t come from that place if it is clearly part of a trademark name (“Swiss Chalet”) or is qualified by the word “brand,” as in “Milwaukee Brand Bacon, Made in Chicago, Illinois.” You can also use place names to describe certain food preparation styles if they are qualified by the word “style,” as in “Buffalo Style Chicken.” However “style” is not always required, nor is it always allowed. And place names qualified with “style” require specific preparations or ingredients to be used. Because of these complications, the guidelines for place names on product labels can be quite complex. Here are 25 place names and the restrictions on their use on food labels.

1. Arkansas

Arkansas Bacon is a very specific cut of pork prepared in a very specific manner. According to the guidelines it must come from the pork shoulder blade Boston roast, which “includes the porcine muscle, fat and bone, cut interior of the second or third thoracic vertebrae, and posterior of the atlas joint (first cervical vertebrae), and dorsal of the center of the humerus bone.” Then, “the neck bones and rib bones are removed by cutting close to the underside of those bones. The blade bone (scapula) and the dorsal fat covering, including the skin (clear plate), are removed, leaving no more than one-quarter inch of the fat covering the roast. The meat is then dry cured with salt, sugar, nitrites, and spices, and smoked with natural smoke.” If you make this bacon outside the state of Arkansas you have to call it Arkansas Style Bacon.

2. Buffalo

This one is a bit confusing because it can refer to a place or an animal. Buffalo Wings is allowed under an exception for “fanciful terms”—everyone knows buffaloes don’t have wings!—but even that still has to be accompanied by a description (“chicken wing sections coated in a spicy sauce”). If something else has a sauce with cayenne pepper, vinegar, salt, and garlic, it can be called Buffalo Style.

3. Cajun

To be Cajun, it has to be made in Louisiana. But if it’s seasoned with onion, garlic, white pepper, red pepper, and black pepper it can be labeled Cajun Style.

4. Canadian

When it comes to Canadian Bacon, Canadian is detached from its geographical sense. You can call your product Canadian Bacon as long as it meets the specific requirements for a particular preparation of boneless pork loin.

5. Chicago

A pizza can be labeled Chicago Style if the cheese is placed directly on the crust, with the meat, and then the sauce, on top of that. “Condimental quantities of a grated cheese may then be placed on the top.”

6. Chinese

Chinese Style can be used for a product “that is enhanced in a solution with soy sauce, grain alcohol or dry sherry wine, and a sweetener, i.e., sugar or honey. Other ingredients may include garlic or scallions, ginger or ginger juice, sesame or peanut oil.”

7. Country

Surprisingly, to be called Country, a product actually must be made in the country (defined as an “unincorporated area”). However, Country Fried does not have to meet that qualification, referring just to a breaded and fried preparation. Country Style can be used for products not made in the country under a few different conditions: for chicken, only if it’s cut up chicken where the wishbone is left intact; for sausage, if it’s prepared with only natural spices; for steak, if it’s a gravy-covered steak that’s been tenderized and then browned by sautéing or in an oven (not cooked by flame or in water).

8. English or Australian

A pie can be labeled English Style or Australian Style if it contains at least 25 percent meat or meat byproduct in gravy and has a puff pastry top. No vegetables though.

9. Hungarian

Goulash can be labeled Hungarian Style if it has paprika and at least 25 percent meat (or 12 percent poultry meat). It cannot contain noodles, potatoes or dumplings.

10. Irish

A stew can be called Irish Stew if it is not made in Ireland as long as it meets certain stew requirements, such as containing lamb, mutton, or beef as well as a selection of vegetables (onions, carrots, potatoes, and turnips). Dumplings may be present, but beans may not be.

11. Italian

A sausage can be Italian Sausage if it contains “at least 85 percent meat, or a combination of meat and fat with the total fat content constituting not more than 35 percent of the finished product. It contains salt, pepper, fennel and/or anise and no more than 3 percent water. Optional ingredients permitted in Italian Sausages are spices (including paprika) and flavorings, red or green peppers, onions, garlic and parsley, sugar dextrose and corn syrup.” A product of any kind can be labeled Italian Style if it has anise, or fennel, or an Italian type cheese (e.g., Mozzarella, Parmesan, Provolone, Ricotta, Romano). It can also be Italian Style if it contains at least three of the following ingredients: basil, garlic, marjoram, olive oil, oregano. However, if you want to call your Minestrone Soup Italian Style, it must contain zucchini.

12. Jamaican

Jamaican Style can be used for products seasoned with allspice, garlic, onion, red pepper, and thyme.

13. Mexican

You can call a product Mexican Style if it has at least four of the following ingredients: jalapeno peppers, chili peppers, green chilies, cumin, cayenne peppers, red or green peppers, chili powder, jalapeno powder, Monterey Jack cheese, or cheddar cheese.

14. New Orleans

New Orleans Style can be applied to products that have at least five out of the following ingredients: roux base, rice, onion, green onions, garlic, celery, bell peppers, cayenne pepper, white pepper, parsley, tomato.

15. North Carolina

If your barbeque meat is prepared in a pepper and vinegar solution, you may call it Eastern North Carolina Style.

16. St. Louis

Ernesto Andrade

Spareribs are St. Louis Style if “the sternum and the ventral portion of the costal cartilages are removed with the flank portion. This cut is made at a point in which the sternum and costal cartilages are removed dorsal to the curvature of the costal cartilages.”

17. Santa Fe

Santa Fe Style may be used for products that contain “chilies with corn or beans and one of the following ingredients: cheese (jack, cheddar, Mexican Style or fresh goat), bell pepper, onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomatillos, cumin, oregano or cilantro. The beans should be either black, kidney, navy, pink, pinto, red, or white beans or an indigenous variety.”

18. Sicilian

For a pizza, if the crust is “50 percent or greater of the total pizza product” you can call it Sicilian Style.

19. Smithfield

Whit Andrews

A ham can only be called Smithfield Ham if it is an aged, dry-cured ham made in Smithfield, Virginia. You cannot get around this requirement by calling it Smithfield Style or Smithfield Brand. You can’t even get around it by producing it in Smithfield, North Carolina.

20. Southern

Southern only applies for “areas south of the Mason-Dixon Line and east of the Mississippi River as well as Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri, which are also considered southern states.” But Southern Fried can be used for a product from anywhere that’s breaded and fried.

21. Southwestern

A product can be labeled Southwestern Style if it has five of the following ingredients: beans, corn, chili peppers, bell peppers, cheddar cheese, cilantro, onions or onion powder, cumin, oregano, garlic or garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and either mesquite smoked, or with mesquite smoke flavor added.

22. Swedish

It doesn’t have to be from Sweden to be a Swedish meatball (no need for “style”), but it does have to contain at least 65 percent fresh meat. It usually contains nutmeg, allspice, potatoes and milk too. However “Swedish Brand Meatballs, Made in USA” can be any meatball.

23. Szechwan

Szechwan Style can be used for a product containing one item from each of three of the following four groups: 1. Soy sauce; 2. Spring onions, scallions or leeks. 3. Garlic, ginger, ginger root. 4. Chili Szechwan peppercorn, Chili oil.

24. Thai

A product can be labeled Thai Style if it has at least five out of the following ingredients: basil, chilies or chili products, cilantro, coconut or coconut products, coriander, cumin, fish sauce, galangal, garlic, ginger, green onions, jasmine rice, lemon grass, peanuts or peanut products, rice noodles, shallots, or soy sauce.

25. Vietnamese

Egg Rolls can be labeled Vietnamese Style only if they “contain soy bean noodles or cellophane noodles, and fish sauce or anchovy extract.”

All images courtesy of iStock unless otherwise stated. 

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entertainment
13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.

1. NINA SIMONE WAS HER STAGE NAME.

The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.

2. SHE HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.


Getty Images

There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.

3. SHE WAS BOOK SMART...

Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.

4. ... WITH DEGREES TO PROVE IT.

Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.

5. HER CAREER WAS ROOTED IN ACTIVISM.

A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”

6. ONE OF HER MOST FAMOUS SONGS WAS BANNED.

Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.

7. SHE NEVER HAD A NUMBER ONE HIT.

Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.

8. SHE USED HER STYLE TO MAKE A STATEMENT.

Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”

9. SHE HAD MANY HOMES.

New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.

10. SHE HAD A FAMOUS INNER CIRCLE.

During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.

11. YOU CAN STILL VISIT SIMONE IN HER HOMETOWN.

Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.

12. YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD HER MUSIC IN RECENT HITS.

Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.

13. HER MUSIC IS STILL BEING PERFORMED.

Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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