Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has updated its advisory memo on identification of essential critical infrastructure workers during COVID-19: It now explicitly mentions manufacturer workers for dietary supplements as being essential.
It also includes food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees; workers supporting groceries and any other retail that sells human food, animal/pet food and pet supply, and beverage products; workers in animal diagnostic and food testing laboratories in private industries and in institutions of higher education; and workers supporting the sanitation and pest control of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail.
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“AHPA appreciates that dietary supplement workers are now specifically identified as ‘essential critical infrastructure’ in this latest guidance from the Department of Homeland Security,” said Michael McGuffin, President of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), in a press release. “The guidance also reiterated its previous advice that other segments of food industry operations are essential, for example retail stores, testing laboratories and more. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and various state-law counterparts, dietary supplements qualify as ‘food,’ which in turn means that the references in the guidance to ‘food’ apply to dietary supplement product products and operations.”
McGuffin added that this guidance reiterates it is “advisory in nature” and not “a federal directive or standard,” so companies and workers should check state and local recommendations and directives in making status determinations for operations that qualify as essential critical infrastructure. AHPA also advised essential businesses to “take appropriate measures to protect employees,” including following guidance made available by the CDC, OSHA, and FDA. AHPA has shared COVID-19 Information & Resources with links available here.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition also is maintaining a COVID-19 resource page for the industry. AHPA has produced a webinar discussing supply chain disruptions, federal legislative expectations, and operational safety planning, among other topics, available here.