Updated: April 2, 2020
Note: We apologize that yesterday (April 01, 2020) did not update properly. To see April 01, 2020's update, please see here. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
There is no scientific evidence demonstrating that COVID-19 is transmitted through food or food packaging. Continue good food safety practices to ensure the safe production, processing, and handling of food products.
Food products do not need to be recalled or thrown away if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19. As COVID-19 is not shown to be transmitted through food, your final product is safe and will not put customers at risk.
In situations where social distancing (maintaining 6 feet or 2 meters) is not possible (e.g. processing or manufacturing lines), employees should wear a mask. Wearing a mask should be in conjunction with practicing social distancing (whenever possible), frequent hand washing, and frequent cleaning/disinfecting/sanitization procedures.
There are currently no food shortage issues. However, businesses should begin considering policies and changes in operation in anticipation of absenteeism, increasing illnesses, limited workforce, changing hours, etc.
Reminder: If your operation is part of the food and agriculture sector (and producing food), you are considered an essential business.
Individuals can carry the virus and be infective even though they may be asymptomatic. This means that respiratory droplets of individuals who do not show symptoms can still contain the live virus.
the Food Industry
The Impact of Updated CDC Guidance on Your Business
On Monday, the CDC updated its guidance for definitions and management of contacts of persons with COVID-19 to reflect new scientific evidence and evolving epidemiological research. While TAG has been recommending many of the guidelines for some time, our previous guidelines are now further accentuated by CDC’s recommendations.
CDC has updated its period of exposure risk from “onset of symptoms” to “48 hours before symptom onset and until the COVID-19 case meets criteria for discontinuing home-isolation.” This means that the risk period for being a close contact with a clinically or laboratory confirmed COVID-19 case includes the time period from 48 hours before the person became symptomatic until the person can discontinue home-isolation per CDC guidelines. The new recommendation reflects the most likely period of transmissibility. Additionally, the definition for “contact” was updated to also include exposure to clinically compatible case in regions with widespread ongoing transmission, in addition to laboratory-confirmed cases.
Now, any of employee who had close contact (household member, intimate partner, or within six feet for 15 minutes or more) in the 48 hours before the onset of symptoms of a person who either tested positive for COVID-19 or was clinically diagnosed should be considered potentially infected. Suspected employees should be sent home, told to follow the 14-day self-quarantine rules, and self-isolate if they become symptomatic. (See TAG’s COVID-19 FAQs.)
To simplify communications and implementation, the CDC also updated its risk strata descriptions. To reflect the risk that everyone in the US faces due to increasing community transmission throughout the country, the “no risk” category was removed and replace with “unknown risk”.
The CDC’s updated recommendations reflect growing evidence of: (a) transmission risk from infected persons without symptoms (asymptomatic individuals) or before the onset of recognized symptoms; (b) the limited availability of COVID-19 testing; and (c) the increasing number of clinically diagnosed cases and community transmission. In addition to issuing updates to support COVID-19 communication and simplify implementation for public health authorities, the CDC emphasized the continued focus on reducing transmission through social distancing.
For specific information for food industry essential workers, see CDC’s Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. For assistance in application to your specific facility and operations, contact TAG’s COVID-19 team.
Everyone should practice social distancing (more specifically, physical distancing), not only those who are ill or at higher-risk (e.g. older individuals, pre-existing conditions) but also among healthy individuals so we may "flatten the curve".
Please feel free to use this free poster at your establishment. Please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a copy of this poster (English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Chinese - simplified, traditional are available).
As of April 02, 2020 (14:14 ET), there are over 981,000 cases (>50,000 deaths) worldwide
Due to the increasing number of cases in the United States, TAG will move from reporting counts per country to focusing on the United States. For further information regarding worldwide numbers, please refer to John Hopkin University’s aggregate map.
Using per capita data from CNN's ongoing live coverage of COVID-19 tracking in the U.S., TAG has collated this information as part of our daily updates to look at the current rate of illness (per 100,000 people) in each state and territories throughout the United States. Both rate of change and density of illness contribute to the risk profile of an area – and the businesses within it. You can find our updates below.
Keep up to date with COVID-19:
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