April 10, 2020
Following its recent decision to lift certain restrictions on the sale of packaged foods, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken further steps to increase flexibility with respect to packaging and labeling requirements for shell eggs. FDA issued this temporary policy to “meet the increased demand for shell eggs during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
FDA noted that additional shell eggs are available to meet consumer demand, but that appropriate packaging and labels are not currently available for all of these eggs. In general, egg cartons are required to include (1) a statement of identity; (2) the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor; (3) nutrition labeling; (4) the quantity of the contents; and (5) safe handling instructions.
In order to allow sale of shell eggs without the proper packaging, on April 3, 2020 FDA issued a Final Guidance explaining that the agency will not object to retail food establishments selling shell eggs without labels, as long as the following criteria are met:
- There is some kind of display at the point of sale, such as a sign or tag, listing (1) a statement of identity, (2) the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor, and (3) safe handling instructions for eggs that have not been processed to eliminate Salmonella.
- Eggs from different suppliers are demarcated at the point of sale such that is clear to consumers which labelling information applies to which eggs.
- The eggs are sold in a completely full carton or flat.
- There are no nutrition claims.
This policy remains in effect only for the duration of the public health emergency related to COVID-19 declared by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), however, FDA encourages the industry to resume full labeling of shell eggs as soon as appropriate packaging and labeling materials are available.
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