FDA COVID egg flexibilities to end in May

March 23, 2023

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will withdraw multiple guidance documents that provided flexibility to various food firms during the Public Health Emergency (PHE) related to COVID-19, including two specific to eggs. The White House has announced that the PHE will end on May 11, 2023, and the flexibilities will end on that date.

Of the guidance documents specific to eggs, one entitled Temporary Policy Regarding Enforcement of 21 CFR Part 118 (the Egg Safety Rule) During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency was intended “to allow producers who currently only sell eggs to facilities for further processing (e.g., into “egg products”) to sell to the table egg market, provided certain circumstances are present.” The agency recognized that egg product facilities selling to food service saw demand for their products dwindle. Since egg products plants are required to implement only some provisions of the Egg Safety Rule, their eggs could not immediately go into retail channels, which were short of eggs when food service demand temporarily dried up. This guidance allowed for the sale of eggs into retail from individual houses that were in full compliance with the Egg Safety Rule, i.e., had implemented all the rule’s provisions even though the eggs were intended for breaking. Before the guidance, the entire farm and not just individual houses would have to be fully compliant to sell into the table egg market.

The other guidance, Temporary Policy Regarding Packaging and Labeling of Shell Eggs Sold by Retail Food Establishments During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, relaxed packaging and labeling requirements that generally apply to egg cartons due to “the limited availability of retail packaging.” Particularly, the information could be provided through a sticker attached to the carton or other means at the point of sale. Certain information typically required (nutrition labeling and the net quantity of contents) did not have to be supplied.