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AFDO COVID-19 Situation Update
Special Edition
 5/23/20

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 22, 2020  
What is New Today?
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 

 



Yesterday, 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.

 

FDA recognizes that providing flexibility to farms to allow them to shift food sales to available buyers during the COVID-19 public health emergency can help reduce food waste and food shortages. This temporary policy is intended to remain in effect only for the duration of the public health emergency, after which the FDA intends to issue additional guidance.  

 

Qualified exempt farms must comply with modified requirements under the Produce Safety Rule, which include establishing and keeping certain records and prominently displaying their name and business address on food packaging or at the point of sale. Farms are responsible for ensuring that the food they produce is not adulterated under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and they should use good agricultural practices to ensure the safety of their produce.

 

For More Information

·     Temporary Policy During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Regarding the Qualified Exemption from the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption  

·     Food Safety and COVID-19

·     FDA COVID-19 Information

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

Worth Repeating...

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
 

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

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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