Posted on March 27, 2020 by Sustainable Food News

FDA lets shuttered restaurants sell food to retailers, consumers

Agency says restaurants' packaged food, ingredients lacking Nutrition Facts label and sitting in inventory may be sold to retailers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Thursday it will allow restaurants impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic to sell inventoried packaged ingredients and food products either directly to consumers or to retailers.

The agency released a guidance document to provide both restaurants and food manufacturers the ability to sell both perishable and non-perishable food – but not food prepared by restaurants – not labeled for retail sale and not bearing a Nutrition Facts label.

However, the packaged food must not have any nutrition claims and must also include the following required information on the label:

The restaurant may reuse original labels or provide the above information on labels it creates or that are provided by the manufacturer, the FDA said.

Similar to the situation in restaurants, 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.

So, the FDA is also allowing food manufacturers to sell packaged food that lacks a Nutrition Facts label, provided the food does not have any nutrition claims and also contains this required information on the label:

  • a statement of identity,
  • an ingredient statement,
  • the name and place of 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, food manufacturers may engage in 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.

The FDA said the guidance is being implemented immediately without prior public comment because the agency has determined that “prior public participation for this guidance is not feasible or appropriate.”

Meanwhile, the FDA also said it “will not focus on enforcement actions” regarding using updated Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels for the remainder of 2020. The agency had previously announced that it would do so for the first six months following the Jan. 1.

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