AFDO COVID-19 Situation Update

Links to most guidance documents and information in this communication can be found on the AFDO COVID-19 Resources Page at for ease of use on an ongoing basis. 
After weeks of shutdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, the nation has begun to slowly open up. This is the state of the country -- for information about the situation, read more at the New York Times website.
  • Source New York Times May 28, 2020  
What is New Today?

FDA Sets Up Voluntary Reporting of Temporary Closures for FDA-Regulated Food Establishments Mechanism

Yesterday the FDA published the guidance: Reporting a Temporary Closure or Significantly Reduced Production by a Human Food Establishment and Requesting FDA Assistance During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. * The guidance provides a mechanism for FDA-regulated establishments (human food facilities and farms), to voluntarily notify the agency of temporary closures and significant reductions in operations, or to request assistance from FDA on issues that might affect continuity of their operations during the pandemic.

Facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for consumption in the United States, register with FDA initially, and thereafter are required to update registration on a biennial basis or within 60 days, if certain changes in operations were to occur. In many cases, the FDA may not be aware that firms are temporarily closed or need to close as a result of the pandemic. More rapid and specific notification regarding the status of FDA-regulated establishments will help FDA understand the current status of the food supply and address challenges food producers are facing during the pandemic.

This guidance does not apply to restaurant and retail food establishments or to animal food operations. Read the Temporary Closures guidance here.

Petition Seeks COVID-19 Testing, Reporting, Warnings for Meat and Poultry

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has filed a new petition with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) with implications for meat processing and products. In addition to asking FSIS to require testing of meat and poultry for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 “and immediately make the findings publicly available,” the petition demands that meat and poultry facilities weekly report “the number of workers or worker family members with presumptive or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 and those dying of COVID-19. In the petition, the Physicians Committee contends meat and poultry might contain coronavirus because some employees involved in the production were infected. 

Read the Food Safety News story here.


Free Cleaning and Disinfecting Video Now Available

This new training video (very basic, simple, and short) is designed for food and hospitality staff that are expected to clean and disinfect.  It is not detailed but communicates the basics as listed by both CDC and FDA.  This 8 and a half minute video describes some basics for staff that will be cleaning and disinfecting food or hospitality businesses to minimize the presence of respiratory viruses. There are three parts: (1) about Covid-19, (2) cleaning & disinfecting, and (3) personal protective equipment. The guidance follows the recommendations of the US CDC and US FDA. This training is not for facilities exposed to blood-borne pathogens.

The video is now available on YouTube without any costs or registrations.  It is recommended that operators supplement this with facility-specific training to their desired depth. Thanks to Utah State University for sharing this resource. 


Worth Repeating...
AFDO Releases Best Practices For Inspections During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Conducting inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic requires personnel to modify their normal routine and increase their level of safety to protect themselves and the employees of the operation they are inspecting. AFDO has developed and released best practices for those who will be doing inspections as establishments begin to open up nationally. Inspectors should consider these tips when preparing for and conducting an establishment inspection.  Download the complete guidance here. 
FDA Announces Temporary Flexibility Policy Regarding Certain Labeling Requirements for Foods for Humans During COVID-19 Pandemic

Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a guidance document to provide additional temporary flexibility in food labeling requirements to manufacturers and vending machine operators. The goal is to provide regulatory flexibility, where appropriate, to help minimize the impact of supply chain disruptions on product availability associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Entitled “
Temporary Policy Regarding Certain Food Labeling Requirements During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Minor Formulation Changes and Vending Machines,” this guidance is one of several the FDA has issued to provide temporary flexibility to the food industry to help support the food supply chain and meet consumer demand during the pandemic.
FDA Provides Flexibility to Farms Regarding Eligibility for the Qualified Exemption Under the Produce Safety Rule 



Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it will provide flexibility regarding eligibility criteria for the qualified exemption under the Produce Safety Rule during the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

Because of COVID-19, state and local governments across the United States have instituted public health orders that have resulted in many restaurants and retail food establishments either closing or significantly limiting their operations, leaving many farmers without their usual buyers. The guidance issued today is intended to allow affected farmers to shift their sales away from qualified end-users while still being considered eligible for the qualified exemption. Specifically, under the temporary policy announced in the guidance, farms that are currently eligible for the qualified exemption and associated modified requirements will still be considered eligible, even if they shift sales away from qualified end-users, so long as they continue to meet the requirement that their average food sales during the previous three years total less than $500,000 (adjusted for inflation).  See the guidance here.

CDC Releases Report on Testing Protocol for SARS-CoV-2 at a Long-Term Care Skilled Nursing Facility

Long-term care skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are at high risk for COVID-19 outbreaks. Many SNF residents and staff members identified with COVID-19 are asymptomatic and presymptomatic. After identification of two cases of COVID-19 in an SNF in Los Angeles, universal, serial reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing of residents and staff members aided in rapid identification of additional cases and isolation and cohorting of these residents and interruption of transmission in the facility.  Universal and serial RT-PCR testing in SNFs can identify cases during an outbreak, and rapid isolation and cohorting can help interrupt transmission. The CDC has issued a report about this incident so as to inform other similar situations. Read the report here. 

FDA and USDA Release Recommendations for Food and Agriculture Sector Regarding PPE   

On Friday, May 22, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculturer eleased 
recommendations to help address shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), cloth face coverings, disinfectants, and sanitation supplies in the food and agriculture industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. The current constraints on these supplies are causing concerns about the potential for interruptions in the food supply chain. These supplies are critical for worker safety, the continuity of the food supply, food safety, and employee/consumer confidence.

The recommendations call for the prioritization of supplies, first to the Healthcare and Public Health as well as the Emergency Services sectors, and then to the Food and Agriculture sector (as well as other Critical Infrastructures).  The recommendations provide information on potential sourcing of supplies, including through private sector suppliers and state emergency management agencies. The recommendations also include information that Food and Agriculture stakeholders should provide when ordering or requesting these supplies. 

For more information

CDC Updates New Guidance on Transmission of COVID-19 From Surfaces

Recent guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sheds new light on how coronavirus spreads through surfaces.

Though there is the possibility that coronavirus could be transmitted by touching a surface — and then your nose, mouth or eyes — the likelihood of that is lower than person-to-person contact, which is believed to be the primary way coronavirus is transmitted. Read the story here.  See the complete updated guidance here

AFDO Professional Development Series Continues to Add More Offerings - From Manufacturing Practices to Food Trucks to Cannabis

The Association of Food and Drug Officials is continuing its support of our regulatory and industry partners until the COVID-19 outbreak subsides. We continue to provide relevant content to keep staff engaged by offering a growing series of webinars and web-based training courses that can be utilized for staff development. We have provided a variety of courses and webinars and new offerings are added every day.  Please check the webpage to look for the daily additions. And if you missed a webinar, those recordings are available through this page as well. All webinars, webinar recordings and courses are free! Just register for the course using the “Register Now” link associated with that course to obtain the log-in information.
In addition, you can access the AFDO podcast catalog at the following links. Videos can be found at and audio podcasts at Or download the AFDO app (IT'S FREE) so you can listen or watch on the go. The app is available for iPhone and Android.

If there are topics of interest that you think should be in our catalog, please let us know by emailing

No CEU's or Certificates of Attendance will be available for these sessions. 
Copyright © 2020 Association of Food and Drug Officials, All rights reserved.

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