Sabra tries to establish U.S. hummus law

If Sabra Dipping Co. has its way, the use of chickpeas and tahini in making hummus will become U.S. law.

The hummus manufacturer, which is co-owned by PepsiCo and the Israel-based Strauss Group, has filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration to create a standard to determine which dips can be labeled hummus.

The standard Sabra is seeking would mandate that hummus be composed primarily of chickpeas and contain no less than 5 percent tahini. The 11-page proposal asks that hummus be defined as “the semisolid food prepared from mixing cooked, dehydrated, or dried chickpeas and tahini with one or more optional ingredients,” according to a news release issued May 19.

Similar standards exist for other condiments, such as ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.

“As the popularity of hummus has soared in the United States over the past decade, the name has been applied to items consisting primarily of other ingredients,” Sabra chief technology officer Tulin Tuzel said in the statement. “From black beans and white beans to lentils, soybeans, and navy beans, everyone wants to call their dip ‘hummus.’”

Sales of hummus have soared in the United States over the last decade, and Sabra controls about 60 percent of the market, according to Information Resources, a Chicago-based market research firm. — jta