Published On: Wed, Apr 29th, 2020

Pennsylvania will allow restaurants to offer bulk prepared foods, ingredients to customers

A new policy in Pennsylvania will temporarily allow restaurants to sell ingredients and bulk prepared foods direct to consumers, and food manufacturers to distribute foods intended for restaurant use to grocery stores for purchase by consumers.

The move comes as the state Department of Agriculture on Wednesday reviewed the Food and Drug Administration’s temporary policy regarding nutrition labeling during the covid-19 crisis, and provided clarity behind new items for sale in Pennsylvania’s grocery stores and restaurants.

Grocery shoppers may now see industrial-sized bags of soup or other prepared items, with non-traditional nutrition information labels. Eggs by the flat, instead of by the dozen, have also been approved by a separate guidance document from the FDA. This temporary flexibility also allows restaurants to sell meal kits or raw ingredients in addition to their regular menu of takeout items.

“As restaurants comply with orders to offer carry-out services only, many find themselves with excess prepared food and ingredients,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “In an effort to curb food waste, state food safety inspectors will allow restaurants and food manufacturers the flexibility to sell bulk foods and ingredients to their customers without the usual labeling requirements.”

Similar to recognizing a need for decreased food labeling requirements, the FDA issued guidance offering restaurants and retail food establishments flexibility for menu labeling. Under normal circumstances, restaurants and retail food establishments that are a part of a chain of 20 or more locations must provide nutrition information (calorie declarations) for standard menu items. Recognizing that business practices have been required to change as a result of covid-19 – including modified menus, printed takeout menus, or online portals – the FDA will not object to restaurants that do not meet requirements.

“The loosening of FDA restrictions will not only reduce food waste but will provide a revenue stream for struggling small businesses and provide greater access to food in communities across the commonwealth,” said John Longstreet, PRLA president & CEO. “The PRLA encourages restaurants and small markets across the state to work with suppliers to increase meal kit and grocery options to enhance their traditional menus and continue to serve a critical role within our communities.”

For a complete list of guidance documents and information as it relates to agriculture during covid-19, visit agriculture.pa.gov/COVID.

 

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