The FDA has released a guidance document titled “Temporary Policy Regarding Packaging and Labeling of Shell Eggs Sold by Retail Food Establishments During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” which provides temporary flexibility regarding the packaging and labeling of shell eggs sold to consumers in retail food establishments.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, consumer demand for eggs sold at retail locations has increased. Additional shell eggs for consumers are available, but appropriately labeled retail packaging is not available for them. Some of the eggs are in flats that typically hold 30 eggs, usually are sold to institutions and restaurants, and are not labeled. Other available eggs could be placed in cartons, but appropriately labeled cartons are not available for all such eggs. To meet the increased demand for shell eggs in light of the limited availability of retail packaging, the agency is providing temporary flexibility regarding certain packaging and labeling requirements for shell eggs.

To facilitate the distribution of shell eggs during the pandemic, the FDA reports it does not intend to object to the sale by retail food establishments of shell eggs in cartons or flats without labels, provided the following:

  • The retail food establishment displays clearly at the point of purchase (for example, on a counter card, sign, tag affixed to the product or some other appropriate device) the following information: statement of identity; the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer or distributor; and safe handling instructions for shell eggs that have not been processed (such as by pasteurization) to destroy all Salmonella.
  • If shell eggs from multiple suppliers are offered for sale at the same time and in the same location, it is clear to consumers which point of sale labeling applies to which of the shell eggs that are offered for sale.
  • The shell eggs are sold by the complete carton or flat.
  • There are no nutrition claims at the point of purchase for the shell eggs. 

FDA says this policy is to remain in effect only for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. As availability of packing and labeling materials improves, the agency encourages industry to resume full labeling as soon as is practical.