April 8, 2020
Continuing its efforts to ensure a continuous and safe supply of food during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, on April 5, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its Questions & Answers for Industry on food safety and COVID-19 to address social distancing in food production/processing facilities and retail food establishments where employees typically work in close proximity.
In light of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) recommendation that individuals should maintain a distance of 6 feet from others, FDA suggests that food production/processing facilities and retail food establishments should evaluate their operations and determine if changes can be made to increase employee separation. However, FDA recognizes that in many facilities, maintaining a minimum 6-foot distance between employees is not possible.
To address this issue, FDA recommends that food production/processing facilities and retail food establishments ensure proper hygiene practices, including frequent and proper handwashing, regular cleaning of all surfaces, and wearing face coverings under appropriate circumstances. FDA further urges collaboration with state and local officials to ensure an appropriate response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, FDA encourages sick employees to comply with CDC guidelines, which urges sick individuals to stay at home, except to get medical care. With increased reports of workers in both manufacturing and retail facilities falling ill, we expect FDA will continue to make best practice recommendations to keep critical food supply chains open.
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