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AFDO COVID-19 Situation Update
6/4/20

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. 
More than 1,841,400 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 106,100 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 4, 2020  
What is New Today?

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. 

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

JOIN US TOMORROW!  You can learn more about the above update from Frank Yiannas, FDA's Deputy Commissioner, Food Policy & Response during a special webinar this Friday, June 5, at NOON EDT. This webinar is part of AFDO's  recognition of the second annual World Food Safety Day. The deputy commissioner will give an update about food safety as part of the Smarter Era initiative and challenges in light of COVID-19. He will share his perspective as we continue moving forward in this unprecedented time and talk about the importance of food safety professionals in that effort. This will be a highly-attended event so register now here. 

Sunday, June 7 marks the second annual World Food Safety Day, a day that draws attention to the importance of safe food, and inspires action to help prevent, detect, and manage foodborne risks worldwide.

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 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 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 bbenschoter@afdo.org. 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 NBEOC@max.gov.

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.

 

AFDO Announces Virtual Annual Education Conference
COVID-19 may have canceled the in person meeting of the AFDO Annual Education Conference but you won't want to miss the virtual meeting of the Association the afternoon of Monday, June 29, 2020. Mark your calendar now and watch your inbox for details next week. Speakers will include leadership from the FDA Office of Regulatory Affairs. We hope you will save the date and join us.

 
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.
Worth Repeating...
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.
 

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


On May 27th, 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.

 

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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