BY STEVE SMITH
ROCKVILLE, Md.-At the request of the egg industry, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA; www.fda.gov) has proposed to amend its food-labeling regulations so that safe-handling statements may appear on the inside lid rather than on the front of egg cartons. The amendment would change the intent of a federal regulation first published in 2000, which required that safe-handling labels be on the principal display panel or adjacent to it.
“And the inside of the carton isn’t ‘adjacent,’” sums Howard Magwire, director of government relations for the United Egg Producers (UEP; www.unitedegg.org).
“The UEP has long supported the safe-handling statement, it’s simply that we don’t have room to put anything more on our outside packaging,” adds Magwire. The FDA, he says, has already allowed egg producers, on a case-by-case basis, to place their safe-handling statement inside.
With partiular concern for salmonella bacteria, the FDA has required that the safe-handling statement read: “To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.” Magwire notes that many egg producers already print their nutrition label information on the inside cover, and “since 95 percent of shoppers open their carton before buying anyway, they are more apt to see it [safety label] on the inside.”
The FDA is providing a 75-day comment period, effective early May, on the proposed rule. III