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. 
More than 2,010,900 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 113,000 have died, according to a New York Times database. This map shows where the number of new cases is rising and where it is falling in the last 14 days. See more at the New York Times website.

  • Source New York Times June 11, 2020  
What is New Today?

CDC Examines Role of Companion Animals in COVID-19 Spread

An estimated 76 million pet cats live in the United States, and approximately 70% of U.S. households own at least one pet (9). Close interactions between humans and pets create opportunities for zoonotic disease transmission. In both cases presented in this report, the cats with positive test results for SARS-CoV-2 had close epidemiologic links to owners with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. In addition, human symptom onset preceded that in cat A by 9 days and in cat B by 8 days. No identified onward human or animal infections were attributed to these animals. This evidence supports findings to date that animals do not play a substantial role in spreading SARS-CoV-2, although human-to-animal transmission can occur in some situations. Companion animals that test positive for SARS-CoV-2 should be monitored and separated from persons and other animals until they recover.  Read this analysis here.

Recording Available
FDA's Frank Yiannas Keynotes AFDO Recognition of World Food Safety Day

Listen now! Frank Yiannas, FDA's Deputy Commissioner, Food Policy & Response presented a webinar that was part of AFDO's  recognition of the second annual World Food Safety Day. The deputy commissioner gave an update about food safety as part of the Smarter Era initiative and challenges in light of COVID-19. He shared his perspective as we continue moving forward in this unprecedented time and talked about the importance of food safety professionals in that effort. Listen to the recording here. 

Worth Repeating...
 FDA Responds to AFDO Letter Urging Produce Inspections To Resume

In a letter dated Friday, May 15, AFDO's Executive Director, Steve Mandernach urged the FDA to allow produce inspections to resume under certain conditions. 
This morning the FDA responded to the request by outlining current FDA thinking that will allow domestic routine surveillance inspections to resume. 

"The FDA is developing a process that would govern how and where to return to domestic on-site facility surveillance inspections. We are using data from HHS, in accordance with the gating criteria outlined in the National Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, and developing a rules-based prediction model, coupled with escalation scenarios." the letter states.

The letter also addressed state considerations when resuming inspections. "We encourage the States to follow the criteria above and we understand the President has asked the Governors to oversee the reopening of their States. Thus, if a State develops their own state-specific criteria for conducting inspections of crops that may have limited growing seasons and addresses or considers any CDC or OSHA guidance for those activities, then the FDA has no objections to States resuming produce inspections in such manner. The FDA is actively charting a path forward to allow the States to resume work supported by the FDA awarded grants under the Produce Cooperative agreement. The Agency will notify each awardee regarding how they may resume work."

Read the entire response here. 
Best Practices for Conducting  Produce Farm Inspections During the COVID-19 Pandemic From AFDO

While the FDA was evaluating when and how the Stop Work Order for Produce Safety Inspections will be lifted,  some states have been proactive and are beginning to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that include social distancing and personal safety for the return to work during COVID-19.  AFDO has developed Best Practices for Conducting Produce Farm Inspections During the COVID-19 Pandemic using FDA, CDC, and state recommendations to provide information to be used as guidance as states develop SOPs in anticipation of returning to on-farm inspection work. You can download the MS Word document here. Also available as a PDF here.

Pandemic Challenges Highlight the Importance of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety

Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs, and Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response issued an update regarding progress and challenges with the development of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint. 

In March, we were a few days away from announcing the release of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint when the FDA’s focus turned to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our plans for the New Era initiative were rightfully put on hold in order to prioritize the agency’s COVID-19 response. As a public health agency, we will always prioritize any threat to the health of the American people.

The FDA will release the blueprint in the coming weeks, outlining our plans over the next decade to create a more digital, traceable, and safer food system. The challenges that have arisen during the pandemic have made it clear that the actions called for in the blueprint will strengthen how we approach the safety and security of the food supply, not just in the normal course of events but especially in times of crisis.

In fact, over the past few months we have revised the blueprint in light of the lessons learned during the pandemic. It is clear that COVID-19 has accelerated the need for these measures. Some element of the blueprint are particularly meaningful now, and we’d like to touch on these, starting with tech-enabled traceability.

Read the entire update here. 

New York Time Articles Delve Into CDC Challenges in Addressing COVID-19

The New York Times has published two articles discussing early mistakes in testing, aging data systems, clashes with President Trump and an overly cautious culture that shook confidence in the nation’s premier public health agency. Long considered the world’s premier public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has fallen short in its response to the most urgent public health emergency in its 74-year history their stories assert. You can read the New York Times analysis   The C.D.C. Waited 'Its Entire Existence for This Moment  and  5 Takeaways on the C.D.C.’s Coronavirus Response by visiting these links.

More FDA Responses to COVID-19 Food Safety Questions
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food and Cosmetic Information Center (FCIC)/Technical Assistance Network (TAN) continues to release responses for questions of interest to AFDO members regarding COVID-19. 

This is in addition to updating its COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions page to include guidance regarding food products.  Real time updates of the FDA's Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) page can be found at  Updates are dated so you are able to tell what information has been added each time. 

As part of the AFDO commitment to providing information and resources to members and the those we serve, we continue to add resources to the 
COVID-19 Resource Page. We continue to offer links to information that has been developed by our partnerships and other subject matter experts. If you identify resources that should be considered or your organization develops some of your own that can be shared with other members, please email them or the link to We appreciate everyone who helps us be more prepared.

New Responses Released This Week
Where should I send questions if we are having problems moving food or getting food through areas that have curfews and restrictions because of the coronavirus? (Updated June 2, 2020)

If you are experiencing issues regarding your supply chain, delivery of goods, or business continuity, please contact the FEMA National Business Emergency Operations Center at

What if a worker reports being in close contact with another worker on the job tested positive for COVID-19? (Updated June 2, 2020)

Consult CDC’s Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19. It includes the following:

  • Pre-Screen: Employers should measure the employee’s temperature and assess symptoms prior to them starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the individual enters the facility.
  • Regular Monitoring: As long as the employee doesn’t have a temperature or symptoms, they should self-monitor under the supervision of their employer’s occupational health program.
  • Wear a Mask: The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employees’ supplied cloth face coverings in the event of shortages.
  • Social Distance: The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
  • Disinfect and Clean Work Spaces: Routinely clean and disinfect areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, and shared electronic equipment.

Agriculture Workers and Employers: Consult this CDC and U.S Department of Labor Guidance for action steps on how to protect workers from COVID-19.  Agriculture employers can adapt these recommendations to their particular work sites or for specific work operations, such as transportation vehicles and shared worker housing, among others.  

Sick workers should follow the CDC’s Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick.

Additional Resources

The Food and Beverage Issues Alliance has developed protocols for (1) when an employee of a firm is a confirmed or presumptive case of COVID-19 and (2) when a facility employee/facility visitor/customer has been in close contact with an individual with COVID-19. This protocol is specific to food manufacturing facilities, distribution centers, and wholesale and retail outlets.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Takes Action to Protect Public Health; Increase Supply of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer 
On June 1 the FDA took additional action to help ensure widespread access to hand sanitizers during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Consumer and health care personnel safety is a top priority for FDA, and an important part of FDA’s mission is to protect the public from harm, including as we seek to increase supply of hand sanitizer. To that end, we have updated our guidances to provide additional clarification on the manufacturing and compounding of certain alcohol-based hand sanitizer products to help ensure that harmful levels of impurities are not present in ethanol used in hand sanitizer.
Restaurant Reopenings Will Require Advance Planning

Restaurants will need to rethink all aspects of dining room design as they prepare to reopen safely. In addition to physical barriers and proper distancing between tables, guidelines from the National Restaurant Association advise eateries to use features such as floor markings and outdoor waiting areas to keep parties separate while they wait to be seated.
Read the Forbes story here.
COVID-19 Impact on Local Retail Regulatory Food Safety Programs

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has released their assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on local regulatory programs. Food safety programs that responded to the NACCHO COVID-19 assessment noted that they have been experiencing varying levels of impact from COVID-19 to their routine operations, ranging from minimal impact to entire food safety programs being shut down, or large portions of staff being reassigned to COVID-19 response. As communities and businesses reopen, the impacts of these reductions in work may have significant impacts.  Read the NACCHO report 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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