FDA Temporarily Relaxes Policies Relating to Eggs Produced for and Sold in the Retail Market
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increased consumer demand for shell eggs in the retail market and a reduced demand for further processed eggs. In response, and in order to facilitate the distribution of shell eggs to the retail market, the FDA has issued a pair of guidance documents that (i) relax food labelling requirements applicable to shell eggs and (ii) relax enforcement of the Egg Safety Rule (21 CFR Part 118).
The first of these guidance documents, issued on April 3, 2020, was directed to retail sellers of shell eggs and stated that the FDA would not object to the sale of shell eggs in cartons or flats that lack labels, provided that at the point of purchase no nutrition claims are made and the retailer displays in clear product-specific labeling:
- a statement of identity;
- the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor; and
- safe handling instructions for shell eggs that have not been processed to destroy Salmonella Enteritidis (SE).
The second guidance document, issued on April 6, 2020, allows egg producers flexibility in compliance with the Egg Safety Rule when sending their eggs to the retail market. In particular, the guidance details modified requirements for compliance with the Egg Safety Rule for both poultry houses that are currently sending eggs to the retail market, and therefore would otherwise subject to more extensive regulation under the Egg Safety Rule, and for poultry houses that are not currently providing eggs to the retail market, and therefore would otherwise be subject to less extensive regulation under the Egg Safety Rule.
These recent guidance documents follow the FDA’s relaxation of food labeling requirements for restaurants and food manufacturers seeking to repurpose their food for retail sale (blogged about here) and the relaxation of nutrition information requirements in chain restaurants (blogged about here), and are yet another effort by the FDA to give the food industry flexibility as it adjusts to the changing market dynamics brought about by the pandemic. Keller and Heckman will continue to monitor and report on COVID-19 related developments that impact the food industry.