Back to the news list US: Food industry releases guidelines for COVID-19
22 March 2020 - Media Release - The Packer
The United Fresh Produce Association and other food industry groups collaborated with the Food and Drug Administration on guidelines for food companies to follow if an employee or customer tests positive for COVID-19.


This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). ( CDC )

The document uses guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

“Inconsistent approaches to reacting to an employee who tests positive for COVID-19 has the potential to jeopardize our food system,” according to the document. “This document recommends a consistent approach in how a company can continue operations in the event an individual has tested positive, given the global COVID-19 pandemic and high transmissibility of this respiratory virus from person to person.”

Recommendation covering different situations include:

Steps to take if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms associated with it; and
Steps to take when an employee of facility/farm visitor tests positive or has symptoms associated with it.

Facilities should be sanitized, following standard procedures, when a case is reported. Employees who had close contact with the COVID-19-positive employee should be notified, according to the document.

According to government agencies and industry organizations, there is no evident that COVID19 is transmitted through food or food packaging.

“The FDA does not anticipate that food will need to be held, recalled or withdrawn from the market due to possible exposure to SARS-CoV-2 through a person that has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus that works a food facility,” according to the document.

The document will be available on the FDA's website March 23.

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