November 24, 2020
Food labeling in the midst of a pandemic: Addressing the need for safety without compromising speed to market
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed business as we know it in so many ways. In the food industry for example, manufacturers, restaurants and retailers have had to rapidly shift how they supply food to consumers. Changes have been implemented in the interest of safety, but the result has been supply chain bottlenecks that cause delays in getting food to it’s destination.
The FDA has responded to these challenges by temporarily relaxing certain labeling requirements, such as those for nutrition labeling, listing “non-primary” ingredients or labeling egg cartons. Allergens the FDA has previously required to be identified must still be clearly labeled; however, there is still debate and regional variability on what allergen ingredients should be listed.
Though the temporarily less stringent requirements have helped speed supply chains and meet consumers’ food needs, it’s also hard to estimate if any damage will be done with the looser rules.
In this environment, labeling should not be overlooked, and in fact, it functions in a more vital role than ever before. It is a critical tool to ensure food safety and supply chain traceability. Modern, digital approaches like cloud-based labeling are essential to ensure critical label data is available on-demand and accessible from any location. Therefore, it should be an asset to ensuring items reach those who need them as quick as possible.
It’s difficult to predict what will come in the months and years ahead; however, we probably won’t see a return to normal business operations soon. Labeling practices that streamline operations while keeping safety as a priority will likely be maintained as we emerge from the pandemic.