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AFDO COVID-19 Situation Update
 5/21/20

Links to most guidance documents and information in this communication can be found on the AFDO COVID-19 Resources Page at www.afdo.org 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 19, 2020  
What is New Today?

CDC Releases Health Considerations Documents

Across America, states and localities are experiencing different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have chosen to begin moving gradually and strategically toward resuming normal civic life. To help businesses and community organizations operate as safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC released health considerations documents to support a variety of settings. The considerations documents compliment other CDC resources, including decision tools released last week to help inform community setting decisions about resuming and gradually scaling up operations.

Considerations Documents


Considerations for Institutes of Higher Education
Considerations for Restaurants and Bars
Considerations for School
Considerations for Youth and Summer Camps
Considerations for Youth Sports

Leaders may use the following decision tools below as they make decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Schools and Childcare Programs Businesses and Workplaces Mass Transit
 
Worth Repeating...

USDA, FDA Strengthen U.S. Food Supply Chain Protections
 

What follows is Tuesday's release from FDA.

As the COVID-19 pandemic response continues, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been working on multiple fronts to support the U.S. food and agriculture sector so that Americans and their families, including their pets and animals, continue to have access to a safe and robust food supply.

Throughout the pandemic, FDA and USDA have been closely monitoring the food supply chain for shortages in collaboration with industry and our federal and state partners. We are in regular contact with food manufacturers and grocery stores.

We have issued guidance to ensure regulatory flexibility to safely reroute food that typically would be bought in bulk by food facilities and restaurants like eggs and flour directly to consumers. We are confident in the resiliency of the food supply and  now, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with USDA, the department that was delegated emergency authorities under the Defense Production Act (DPA) (https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-declaring-national-emergency-concerning-novel-coronavirus-disease-covid-19-outbreak).

This is an important preparedness effort as we are approaching peak harvesting seasons when many fruits and vegetables grown across the U.S. are sent to be frozen or canned. The MOU established a process outlining the circumstances in which USDA could exercise its authority under the DPA over certain FDA-regulated entities.

If you have knowledge and information about an FDA-regulated food industry or commodity sector experiencing sustained disruption in operations that could threaten the continuity of the national food supply chain and undermine critical infrastructure during the national emergency, please contact the FDA by email: COVID19.FoodDPA@fda.hhs.gov

Industry Letter:  https://www.fda.gov/media/138172/download

Joint Statement: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/usda-fda-strengthen-us-food-supply-chain-protections
 

The FDA Releases Additional Coronavirus Q&As for Consumers

The FDA continues to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and keep consumers informed on the latest developments. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions from consumers about tests, pets and food shopping:

Is there a test for COVID-19?

Yes, there are tests for COVID-19. We’re created this easy-to-understand information about the different types of coronavirus tests and the FDA’s role in authorizing them (download this PDF).

Though there is currently no FDA-approved or cleared test for COVID-19, the FDA has issued several Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs). During public health emergencies declared under section 564 of the FD&C Act, the FDA is able to issue EUAs when certain criteria are met that allow for the use and distribution of potentially life-saving medical products to diagnose, treat, or prevent the disease, which can include diagnostic tests. 

Can I get COVID-19 from my pet or other animals?

There is a very small number of animals around the world reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after having contact with a person with COVID-19. There is currently no evidence that animals are a source of COVID-19 infection in the United States. 

Until we learn more about how this virus affects animals, treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from a potential infection.

·     Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.

·     Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.

·     Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals.

·     Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

Talk to your veterinarian if your pet gets sick or if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.

Q: What are the most important things I need to know to keep myself and others safe when I go to the grocery store during the pandemic?

A: Watch this video about 12 tips to shop for groceries with confidence.

It includes steps you can take to help protect yourself, grocery store workers and other shoppers, such as wearing a face covering, practicing social distancing, and using wipes on the handles of the shopping cart or basket. Read more tips in Shopping for Food During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Information for Consumers.

To learn more about these and other coronavirus topics, visit: Frequently Asked Questions

AFDO Urges FDA to Resume Produce Inspections

In a letter dated Friday, May 15, AFDO's Executive Director, Steve Mandernach urged the FDA to allow  produce inspections to resume under the following conditions:
  • The state or region of the farm has been reopened by the Governor and local authorities;
  • A personal safety policy has been developed particularly addressing COVID-19 and personal safety and staff have been trained to the policy;
  • Appropriate PPE as required by the policy and recommended by CDC are available and required for use by the policy;
  • Social distancing can be maintained;
  • Exposure to people is as limited as possible; and
  • Activities are limited to outdoor areas.
Read the complete letter here.
 
CDC Issues Additional Reopening Guidance For Restaurants
 

The CDC has issued additional guidance for reopening that includes a section for restaurants.  You can find the document section here.  To download the whole document visit the CDC site
Delayed CDC COVID-19 Guidance Released in One-Page Decision Tool Format

 

Last week the CDC released six one-page “decision tool” documents with graphic treatments to explain to organizations what they should consider before reopening. Included is guidance for schools, workplaces, camps, childcare centers, mass transit systems, and bars and restaurants. The CDC originally also authored a document for churches and other religious facilities, but that was not included in yesterday's release. . 

The Associated Press had released a more comprehensive draft guidance a few days ago.  Read the New York Times story on the slimmed-down guidance here. Download the food service one-page tool here
FDA Announces Collaborations Promoting Rigorous Analyses of Real-World Data to Inform Pandemic Response
Today, the FDA announced another step in the effort to harness diverse streams of data to understand and respond to COVID-19. The FDA has entered into an agreement with Aetion to collaborate on advanced analytical techniques to answer urgent coronavirus disease (COVID-19) research questions. The collaboration's goal is to answer questions about the use of diagnostics and medications in the pandemic, and risk factors for COVID-19-related complications in different patient populations. Read the announcement here. 
The FDA also issued a new FDA Voices titled, COVID-19 Supply Chain Update: Importation of Vital Food and Medical Products. It provides details on the FDA’s work to ensure the safety and security of the U.S. supply of food and medical products. Many of the medical products our health care workers and hospitals need to battle COVID-19 come from overseas, which makes the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) work imperative to ensure legitimate products are moving as quickly as possible through the ports of entry. At the same time, ORA imports staff also screens for, and blocks the entry of, unproven products that falsely claim to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure COVID-19.
 
CNBC Reports on  Emerging Grocery Trends in Light of COVID-19 
What will the new normal look like? Here's one look at how things might come to be. 
  • Mask-wearing and one-way aisles may fade away, but analysts say the pandemic will change how customers stock their fridges and how grocers do business for years to come. 
  • Customers will continue to seek out contactless ways to buy or pay for groceries and it’ll accelerate their interest in food that’s from closer to home, said Scott McKenzie, Nielsen’s head of global intelligence.
  • Grocers may use personal shoppers to build customer relationships and may also invest in automation.
Read the story here. 
 
Consumer Brands Association Responds to Guidance From the CDC and OSHA After Their Request
Following a letter sent by the Consumer Brands Association urging federal guidance to address public health and worker safety questions, CDC and OSHA released interim COVID-19 guidance for manufacturing workers and employers. "These are challenging times, and we appreciate the administration's effort in crafting these vital public health guidelines," said Consumer Brands President and CEO Geoff Freeman. "We urge federal authorities to establish an ongoing interagency process to continue issuing clear, coordinated guidance that manufacturers can follow and state and local governments can adopt."  Read the CBA statement here.  
 
Free COVID-19 Protection Strategies for Food Service Available 
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought huge impact to the entire world and more specifically to the way people live and think. Ecolab has developed free strategic resources to help navigate these unprecedented challenges to food service, sharing critical and relevant information to help prevent the spread of infection and provide guidance on re-opening and maintaining a clean, safe and healthy operation. See this toolbox here. 
Food Groups Develop Decision Tool for Manufacturing Operations


AFFI, Consumer Brands Association, United Fresh Produce Association, American Bakers Association, National Fisheries Institute, International Dairy Foods Association and others worked together to draft a decision tool for manufacturers.  The tool can be used by public health officials as well.  It is available here
Podcast: How the FeedingUS.Org Decision Tool for Food Manufacturing Came to Be 
We interviewed Dr. Sanjay Gummalla, Senior Vice President of Scientific Affairs for the American Frozen Food Institute about tool mentioned above and how the Food and Beverage Issue Alliance (FBIA) members collaborated to create it. The  video and audio interviews are now available. 

You can access the AFDO podcast catalog at the following links. Videos can be found at
 https://afdo.podbean.com/ and audio podcasts at https://afdoaudio.podbean.com/. 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. 

FDA Continues to Respond to 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-19These answers can be found here.

It's important to check back frequently for the latest as well as visit the AFDO COVID-19 Resource Page.

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 https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/food-safety-and-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19 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 PageWe 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 bbenschoter@afdo.org. We appreciate everyone who helps us be more prepared.

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 
https://afdo.podbean.com/ and audio podcasts at https://afdoaudio.podbean.com/. 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 
afdo@afdo.org.

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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