Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says her agency will waive certain packaging and labeling requirements to help accelerate the supply of eggs to Florida’s retailers.
Floridians and residents of other states have stocked up on eggs amid the novel coronavirus outbreak which has prompted some to worry of a possible egg shortage.
Some of those purchasers are “stress-baking” or otherwise using the eggs to cook. Others are buying up the product ahead of Easter.
Either way, Fried’s office wants to make sure Floridians don’t run low, with instructions courtesy of a new emergency order.
“During Commissioner Fried’s emergency order, packages of shell eggs will not be required to have printed certain information such as date of pack, grade, and size, although retailers will provide in-store statements with the information typically required,” a Tuesday release from Fried’s office says.
“This will allow eggs to be moved more quickly from producers to retailers.”
Without suppliers forced to go through those packaging requirements, they can be sent to grocery stores and restaurants more quickly, in theory.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently relaxed packaging requirements for shelled eggs, allowing Fried’s office flexibility to act.
“Now more than ever, Floridians need access to safe, healthy, farm-fresh foods like eggs,” Fried added in a Tuesday statement of her own.
“This order will give industry flexibility to meet increased consumer demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are fully committed to working with agricultural producers and retailers to get more fresh products to consumers at this critical time.”
Even though eggs may not yet be widely out of stock, some prices have seen a huge surge in recent months. A CBS News report notes the price of a dozen Midwest large eggs rose from $1.03 at the beginning of March to $3.09 by the end of the month. That latter price is a record.
Tuesday’s order is the Agriculture Commissioner’s latest measure aimed at addressing the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the outbreak started taking root in Florida, Fried has rolled out a number of measures aimed at keeping Floridians fed, including activating a text line and call center to help families find free meals for kids during school closures. The program is an extension of Summer BreakSpot, which helps kids in the free school lunch program get meals during summer.
Fried’s office also has duties beyond the agriculture industry, including oversight of concealed weapon permits.
Last month, she announced her office would not impose late fees for permit renewals and would also give permitholders an additional 30 days to get their paperwork in after expiration.
She also suspended all late fees on renewals and certifications for pest control, pesticide, fertilizer and animal feed licensees. An additional 30 days for annual and quarterly reporting required for those licenses was also granted.