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From the Washington Post this morning:

"The Food and Drug Administration has temporarily loosened labeling and information rules for food manufacturers for the fifth time during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"The changes are intended to ease manufacturers’ supply-chain snags, but advocacy groups say they are concerned that the changes will become permanent and that they will present problems for consumers concerned about tracking the provenance of their food.

"The new guidance allows manufacturers to substitute hard-to-source ingredients in their products without changing the label. And it allows vending machine operators latitude to omit calorie information for foods sold."

The Post notes that "other temporary changes that the FDA has issued since the start of the pandemic address nutrition labeling on food packages, menu labeling at fast-food chains, and two involving the packaging and labeling of eggs."

"The food industry has informed us that there are supply disruptions or shortages for some ingredients. As a result, manufacturers may need to make formulation changes, such as omissions or substitutions of minor ingredients," FDA spokesman Peter Cassell tells the Post.  "To address this situation, and to continue to support the food supply chain during this emergency, the FDA is issuing guidance to industry to provide temporary flexibility for manufacturers to make minor formulation changes in certain circumstances without making conforming label changes."

KC's View:

The devil is in the details, and you can count me among the people who would be concerned if these changes are anything but a temporary fix to pandemic-related supply chain issues.

Longtime MNB readers know that I firmly believe in exacting, precise and detailed food labeling - including, wherever possible, country of origin labeling (COOL) that provides consumers with as much information and transparency as can be legitimately offered.

I get a little nuts about this - I can do a five-minute rant about so-called frozen blueberry waffles that don't have any actual blueberries in them.

If this is a quick fix to address crisis conditions, fine.  But if the food industry things is a way to get a foot in the door to create a longer term relaxation of labeling rules, then I think it is not doing its shoppers any favors, and in the end, not doing itself any favors.