Washington, D.C.—The U.S. food supply remains safe for both people and animals, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assured in an announcment on March 24. “There is no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” said Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response.
Yiannas explained that, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is thought to spread mainly from person to person. “Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission,” he said. “For these reasons, we do not anticipate that food products would need to be recalled or withdrawn from the market for reasons related to the outbreak, even if a person who works in a human or animal food facility (e.g. a food packager) is confirmed to be positive for the COVID-19 virus.”
Despite common reports of food shortages at local stores, Yiannas said there are currently no nationwide shortages of food. “Overall, retail supply chains remain strong, and the FDA is working with food manufacturers and grocery stores to closely monitor the human food supply chain for any shortages. The agency is in close contact with industry and its trade associations, which are in touch with their members about supply chain issues.”
FDA also has posted resources for industry members and consumers on Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). This includes answers to common questions, including:
How do I maintain social distancing in my food production/processing facility and food retail establishment where employees typically work within close distances? Acknowledging that social distancing to the full 6 feet will not be possible in some food facilities, FDA advised that effective hygiene practices should be maintained to reduce the chance of spreading the virus. Read the FDA’s response in full here.
Should employees, such as cashiers, baggers, and cleaning personnel in food retail settings wear face masks to prevent exposure to COVID-19? FDA noted that CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. Read the FDA’s response in full here.
This FDA resource page address many more questions, plus provides additional resource and guidance for the industry. It is being updated as new information is available.
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