The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all, causing us to change our way of life for the foreseeable future. Recently, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the FDA has released new guidance for food labeling here in the United States, which essentially gives more flexibility to food producers when labeling their products that have “minor formulation changes” to help ease the burden on supply chain distributions during the pandemic.
What does this mean?
While this may seem frightening for those who have serious allergies, companies may only refrain from updating ingredient labels if the new ingredient “does not cause any adverse health effect.”
The specifics of the FDA’s new guidance are as follows:
- The omitted or substituted ingredient must only make up 2% or less of the food
- Characterizing ingredients cannot be changed
- The omitted or substituted ingredient cannot impact the product’s nutritional value.
Some examples that the FDA included are as follows:
- A pre-packaged vegetable quiche does not have to include green peppers
- Companies may substitute unbleached flour for bleached flour as long as the bleaching agent is in short supply
- Companies may substitute canola oil for sunflower oil since they contain similar fats and neither is a common allergen
What This Means For Product Liability Lawsuits
When products are designed, manufactured, and labeled, they must be done so to ensure the safety of all those who purchase and use them. In many cases, when products fail to warn consumers of potential dangers or risks, people can become seriously injured or harmed as a result. In this case, when omitting certain ingredients, people with serious uncommon allergies may be affected, and may have a case for a failure to warn. Various consumer advocacy groups are warning of the potential risks this may pose for individuals with food allergies, including SnackSafely.com CEO Dave Bloom, who said in a statement: “If you have a food allergy, the substitution of ingredients can be extremely dangerous and can cause anaphylaxis. The fact that they (the FDA) say 2% or less of an ingredient is changed means nothing because even a little trace of an allergen can cause a reaction and send someone to the hospital.” He went on to say, “There are 32 million Americans that have a food allergy – that’s one in 10 of us that are put at risk by this.”
Though the FDA has not clarified how long this change will take effect, we believe that many product liability cases may crop up across the board as a result. For any additional questions, please do not hesitate to give our Houston personal injury attorneys a call today.
Contact our experienced Houston firm
We understand how challenging various legal matters can be, which is why we have dedicated ourselves to helping clients in Texas through a wide array of legal matters, including personal injury law and criminal defense. If you have sustained a serious injury or are facing criminal charges, contact the Gonzalez Law Group today to learn more about how we can help you through every step of the legal process ahead.