FDA Issues guidance to provide additional temporary flexibility in food labeling requirements to manufacturers and vending machine operators
On May 22, 2020, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a guidance document to provide additional temporary flexibility in food labeling requirements to manufacturers and vending machine operators. The goal is to provide regulatory flexibility, where appropriate, to help minimize the impact of supply chain disruptions on product availability associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
First, the FDA provided flexibility for manufacturers to make minor formulation changes in certain circumstances without making conforming label changes, such as making a change to product ingredients, without updating the ingredient list on the packaged food when such a minor change is made. Another formulation change for which the FDA is providing temporary flexibility is the substitution of “bleached flour” given a shortage of the bleaching agent used to bleach flour. Given significant supply chain disruptions for this ingredient during this time, FDA is providing temporary flexibility for the substitution of unbleached flour for bleached flour without a corresponding label change while there continue to be bleached flour shortages.
Second, the FDA is providing temporary flexibility to the vending machine industry and will not object if covered operators do not meet vending machine labeling requirements to provide calorie information for foods sold in the vending machines at this time. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, vending machine operators may need to change business practices, and there may be temporary disruptions in the supply chain for foods sold in vending machines.