Updated: May 27, 2020
We have received questions from within the food and beverage industry (both in the US and internationally) inquiring about manufacturers and processors asking for “COVID-19 Free” certificates or even “Clean COVID” labels. As has been stated numerous times, there is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted through food.
The European Commission even states: “a “virus-free” certification cannot be justified as there is no evidence that food poses a risk to public health in relation to COVID-19. Any request for such guarantees is thus disproportionate and as a consequence not acceptable.”
The World Health Organization has halted its clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients as increasing evidence points towards its harm.
France has banned the use of hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients.
Brazil currently has the second-highest number of COVID-cases globally.
the Food Industry
Recent USDA, FDA COVID-19 Related Posts.
USDA and FDA recently posted new documents related to COVID-19 relevant to meat and poultry processors and farms:
“Clean COVID” Food Label? A petition was submitted to USDA requesting that FSIS require meat and poultry processing establishments to test products for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 and make the results available to the public and on the label. In its acknowledgment of petition receipt, USDA stated, “The petition does not include scientific studies or other supporting information to demonstrate that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.”
As FDA, CDC, and TAG have all frequently stated, there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food. We will continue to monitor USDA’s response to this petition.
FDA Farm Flexibility. FDA has issued a temporary policy guidance document providing flexibility for farms on the eligibility criteria for the qualified exemption under the Produce Safety Rule during COVID-19. The guidance allows affected farmers to shift their sales away from qualified end-users while continuing to remain eligible for the qualified exemption.
Specifically, under the temporary policy, farms that are currently eligible for the qualified exemption and associated modified requirements will still be considered eligible, even if they shift sales away from qualified end-users, so long as their average food sales during the previous three years again total less than $500,000 (adjusted for inflation).
FDA Temporary Labeling Policy for Minor Formulation Changes. FDA has also issued a temporary policy that allows the food industry to make certain temporary and minor food formulation changes without making conforming label changes when there are supply disruptions or an ingredient shortage because of COVID-19. Any changes made must be consistent with the following factors outlined in the guidance document:
SAFETY: the ingredient being substituted for the labeled ingredient does not cause any adverse health effect (including food allergens, gluten, sulfites, or other ingredients known to cause sensitivities (see section C.2.a) in some people, for example, glutamates);
QUANTITY: generally present at 2 percent or less by weight6 of the finished food;
PROMINENCE: the ingredient being omitted or substituted for the labeled ingredient is not a major (prominent) ingredient (for example, replacing rice flour for wheat flour in a muffin) or an ingredient that is the subject of a label statement (such as, butter in a cookie with a “Made with real butter” claim);
CHARACTERIZING OR INGREDIENT IN NAME: the ingredient being omitted or substituted for the labeled ingredient is not a characterizing ingredient (such as omitting raisins in a raisin bread) where the presence of the ingredient has a material bearing on consumer purchasing;
CLAIMS: an omission or substitution of the ingredient does not affect any voluntary nutrient content or health claims on the label; and
NUTRITION/FUNCTION: an omission or substitution of the labeled ingredient does not have a significant impact on the finished product (including nutritional differences or functionality).
As of May 27, 2020 (11:15 ET), there are over 5,610,000 cases (>351,000 deaths) worldwide.
Due to the increasing number of cases in the United States, TAG will move from reporting counts per country to focus on the United States, please see here for the data. For further information regarding worldwide numbers, please refer to John Hopkin University’s aggregate map.
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