Coronavirus: FDA temporarily eases nutrition labeling on some packaged food

By Mary Ellen Shoup contact

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages / Jollier_
©GettyImages / Jollier_

Related tags: Fda, coronavirus, COVID-19

The FDA is providing some temporary flexibility to food manufacturers and restaurants in regards to nutrition labeling so that they can sell certain packaged food products directly to consumers and retailers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food manufacturers with inventory that had been destined for restaurants (and lacks a Nutrition Facts label) can be sold at retail provided the food does not bear nutrition claims and has other required info on the label, said the FDA in guidance​ released Thursday.

"Food manufacturers may have inventory on hand that is labeled for use in restaurants that is no longer being purchased by those operations. In addition, because many manufacturers practice 'just in time' manufacturing, they may have sufficient ingredients on hand to produce additional product but not enough packaging materials to label the product for retail sale."

For restaurants that wish to sell packaged food to consumers directly, or to other businesses for sale to consumers, the FDA similarly will not object if the packaged food lacks a Nutrition Facts label, provided it does not feature nutrition claims and contains other required information on the label, including:
  • a statement of identify
  • an ingredient statement,
  • the name and place of the business of the food manufacturer, packer, or distributor,
  • net quantity of contents, and
  • allergen information required by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act​.
Finally, if retail packaging for certain food products is unavailable, the FDA does not intend to object to the further production of food labeled for use in restaurants that is intended to be sold other than to restaurants until retail packaging is available. 

Extended grace period for Nutrition Facts labeling

Separately, while new rules on Nutrition Facts labeling came into effect on January 1, 2020 for manufacturers with $10m or more in annual food sales, the FDA says it won't take enforcement actions related to the new rules for the remainder of the year.

"FDA intends to work cooperatively with manufacturers for the remainder of the year regarding using updated Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels and will not focus on enforcement actions during this time.  FDA previously announced​ that it would do so for the first six months following the January 1, 2020, compliance date."

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