The U.S. FDA (Food & Drug Administration) has reportedly loosened the information and labeling rules temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the 5th time the agency has changed the rules for food manufacturers, noting that it was intended to significantly cater to the public health emergency.
The alternations will help ease the supply-chain challenges faced by manufacturers. However, the advocacy groups have highlighted their concerns on the temporary change in guidelines that might become permanent and lead to rising issues among consumers in terms of tracking their food’s providence. These groups further added that the recently announced guidance will also give rise to concerns among people as allergens are not being listed on the food label.
The new changes will allow the substitution of the hard-to-source ingredients in the products by manufacturers as well as enables vending machine operators to avoid giving calorie information of the foods.
According to Peter Cassell, FDA’s spokesperson, the food industry has reported to the agency about the disrupted supply chain as well as shortages of some food ingredients. Due to these, there has been a need to make alterations in the formulation by manufacturers, such as substitutions or omissions of minor ingredients. The agency issued the guidance to address this situation and support the supply chain amid the pandemic and offer more flexibility in making minor formulation changes for manufacturers. He further stated that these changes must remain consistent with the general factors including food allergens, prominence of the ingredients, and other safety concerns.
In addition to these guidelines, the FDA has issued other temporary changes to address the labeling of nutrition on packaged foods, labeling menu at fast-food chains as well as labeling and packaging of eggs. This will help alleviate hiccups in the supply chain as well as reallocate foods during the coronavirus outbreak.
Laura MacCleery, CSPI’s (Center for Science in the Public Interest) policy director, has stated that the formulation changes are not intended to be permanent.