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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is temporarily loosening its food labeling policies during the coronavirus pandemic to help minimize supply chain disruptions and give producers more flexibility amid food shortages.
The FDA issued guidance allowing food manufacturers and vending machine operators to amend product ingredients without updating labels as long as the food item being substituted doesn't contain gluten, sulfites or food allergens that may cause adverse health effects. The policy is slated to stay in effect only for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
Food can be substituted or omitted from the label as long as it's not the major ingredient in the product, and adding or subbing in food can't significantly alter the product's nutritional content, the guidelines say. So raisins can't be subbed out in a product like a raisin bread, but green peppers can be omitted from a quiche if unavailable.
Manufacturers can also substitute certain oils temporarily when needed, such as canola oil for sunflower oil. And with bleached flour shortages, the FDA is allowing a substitute for unbleached flour.
The FDA is also giving vending machine operators more flexibility to sub in products when necessary depending on supply chain issues.