FDA Provides Temporary Flexibility for Nutrition Labeling of Certain Packaged Food due to COVID-19 Pandemic

From the FDA CFSAN updates.
FDA is issuing this guidance to provide restaurants and food manufacturers with flexibility regarding nutrition labeling so that they can sell certain packaged foods during the COVID-19 pandemic.   This guidance does not apply to foods prepared by restaurants. The guidance, due to the exceptional situation, has not been opened for preventive public consultation.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants and food manufacturers may have food not labeled for retail sale that they wish to sell at retail.  For example, restaurants may have purchased ingredients that they can no longer use to prepare restaurant food and instead wish to sell to their customers.  To facilitate the distribution of food during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today released a guidance document,  Guidance for Industry: Temporary Policy Regarding Nutrition Labeling of Certain Packaged Food During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, to provide restaurants and food manufacturers with flexibility regarding nutrition labeling of certain packaged food.
For restaurants that wish to sell packaged food to consumers directly, or to other businesses for sale to consumers, the FDA does not intend to object if the packaged food lacks a Nutrition Facts label, provided that the food does not have any nutrition claims and contains other required information on the label, including the following, as applicable:
  • a statement of identify
  • an ingredient statement,
  • the name and place of the 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.
For food manufacturers that have inventory on hand that is labeled for use in restaurants, the FDA does not intend to object to the sale of packaged food that lacks a Nutrition Facts label by food manufacturers, provided that the food does not have any nutrition claims and contains other required information on the label, including the following, as applicable:
  • 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, the FDA does not intend to object to 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. Although the guidance is being implemented immediately, it remains subject to comment according to the agency’s good guidance practices.
Separate from this guidance, FDA intends to work cooperatively with manufacturers for the remainder of the year regarding using updated Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels and will not focus on enforcement actions during this time.  FDA previously announced that it would do so for the first six months following the January 1, 2020, compliance date.

Transition period to new Food Labeling Standards for Japan is coming to the end

Today we published a guest post from our friends from Osaka, Label Bank ! (see link at the end of the article for more info)

Although many products complying with the new food labelling standards (hereafter: FLS) have arrived on the Japanese shelves since their implementation on April 2015, a transitional period of 5 years has also been given (till 31 March 2020) during which the labeling of processed food and additives according to the old FLS is still allowed, however depending on the purpose of the product:

General use (B2C): products manufactured, processed or imported to Japan by 31 March 2020
Business use (B2B): products sold by 31 March 2020

Furthermore, based on the “Summary of the Food Labeling Standards” issued by the Consumer Affairs Agency, the main changing points in the new FLS are as listed here:

1 Standardization of the classification between processed food and perishable food: Now follows the line of thinking of the previous JAS law (ex: even simply processed food like dried fruits are classified as “processed”)

2 Amendment of rules regarding the use of Manufacturer Identification Codes: Which strictly concern products that are produced in two factories or more

3 Amendment of rules regarding allergens: Changes in the terminology/symbols used. Writing all allergens separately is now the standard way to proceed (gathering allergens labeling is still allowed but only in certain specific case)

4 Labeling of a nutrition facts panel is now mandatory: For all processed food and additives aimed at consumers, in addition to  a couple of adjustments to the labeling rules themselves (ex: “Sodium” item changed to “Salt equivalent”, etc.).

5 Amendment of rules regarding Nutrient Content Claims with new rules for claims like “No use of sugar”, and an update in the nutrient’s standard values (ex: in the requirements to indicate an increase or decrease in nutrients content compared to other products, or for labeling stating that the product can fulfill certain nutrients needs)

6 Change of rules regarding the Foods with Nutrient Function Claims system: New nutrients have been added (n-3 fatty acid, vitamin K and potassium). Perishable foods can now be targets of this labeling system.

7 Change of rules regarding the labeling of the ingredients list: Rules for labeling according to individual food categories has changed (ex: for “breads”, ingredients and additives must now be separated)

8 Amendment of rules regarding labeling of additives for sales: The labeling items “name and address of the person in charge of labeling” and “net weight (for Additives aimed at general consumers)” are now mandatory

9 Regulation of parts of the labeling rules that used to only be stated in notifications: The labeling of measures concerning food poisoning (fugu, botulism, etc.) is now mandatory, and the standard values for nutrients labeling have been summarized/regulated.

10 Amendment of the labeling layout: labeling items pertaining to safety matters cannot be omitted anymore, no matter how small the labeling area is, and the classification of ingredients and additives now should be clear on the label.

In addition to the mandatory labeling content (of which the above is a general overview), there have been changes in the labeling claims standards also.

On a side note, it should be noted that some of the standards are to be found outside the FLS: it is essential to also check the complementary documents “regarding food labeling standards”/”Food labeling Standards Q&A”.

Overall, we strongly recommend to carefully check the labeling of your food products aimed at Japan during the remaining period and update as necessary!

Reference:

Summary of the food Labeling Standard, in Japanese (食品表示基準の概要)

https://www.caa.go.jp/policies/policy/food_labeling/food_labeling_act/pdf/150331_kijyun-gaiyo.pdf

More info about the changes, in English:

https://label-bank.com/newsletter/issues/201904_2.html

More about Label bank:

Label bank is company specialized in all services (formulation and label review, development, regulatory consulting, databases) related to the labeling of food product for the Japanese market.

Learn more here! https://label-bank.com/