COVID-19  Retainer Package

For the food industry

We here at TAG are here to help you face the evolving crisis, manage the situation, protect your workforce, and enable business continuity while limiting potential brand damage and monetary losses. Contact us about our COVID-19 Retainer Package.

TAG COVID-19 Key Points 

This page is updated daily and contains Key Points to note from

TAG's COVID-19 daily newsletter and updates.

October 30, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendation for Industry, we discuss:

    • Communicating risks and resources with your employees to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during the Halloween weekend. Read more

  • Halloween is tomorrow, the CDC has provided new Trick-Or-Treating & Halloween Preventive Measures & Alternative Activities (pdf) and Steps to Take for Other Halloween Activities.

  • Global COVID case have now exceed 45 million, with U.S. nearing 9 million

  • In Case You Missed It:

    • On Wednesday, we reviewed the Risk Matrix, providing a snapshot of what is happening in the U.S. and how states are doing. Read more.

    • For a more detailed look at specifics of each state’s opening and/or re-closing programs (including if bars, gyms, etc. are open or not), check out .

    • U.S. counties that have enforced mandated public mask-usage policies have seen a decline in cases (even within a month) of enforcement; e.g., in Kansas and in Arizona (a 75% drop in COVID-cases after mask-wearing was enforced and bars/gyms were closed). Masks are good! Wear them!

    • New research indicates that some COVID survivors have antibodies that, instead of attacking the virus, attack their bodies, similar to autoimmune disorders. Read more in the news.

    • On Monday, we discussed the most recent record of reported U.S. COVID-19 cases and what that might mean

    • OSHA is offering no-cost, confidential occupational safety and health services to small and medium-sized U.S. businesses. Find out more here.

    • The New York Times is interested in hearing from farmers, meatpackers, grocers, and other essential workers who have kept the country fed throughout the pandemic. If you are interested in sharing your story, you may contact them here.

  • Are there any topics or questions that we have not covered yet or did not expand on, previously, regarding COVID-19? Do you have any questions that we haven’t answered yet about COVID-19 and its impact on your business? If so, leave us a message and let us know.

October 28, 2020

October 26, 2020

  • In Today’s Recommendation for Industry, we discuss the most recent (as of Friday) record of reported U.S. COVID-19 cases and what that might mean. 

  • Global cases of COVID-19 have exceeded 43 million (up 2 million since this past Friday).

  • How can assurance testing of asymptomatic workers verify your COVID-19 Protection? Join our upcoming webinar with Dr. Ben Miller this Wednesday October 28, 2020.

  • CIDRAP has summarized two recent studies on convalescent plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients. From the two studies, there has been no benefit by using convalescent plasma; in fact, there may be a risk leading to blood clots.

  • The FDA has approved its first U.S. treatment for COVID-19, the antiviral drug Veklury (also known as remdesivir) to be used in adults and pediatric patients over 12 years of age “for the treatment of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization”. At this time, the WHO does not believe remdesivir is an effective treatment.

  • A large U.S. and Canada study looking at 339 asymptomatic and 478 symptomatic children from March to July has found that lower COVID-19 viral loads are found in asymptomatic children. However, asymptomatic children with diabetes who had recent close contact with a COVID-19 infected individual did have the highest viral load. Read the press release here.

  • In Case You Missed It:

    • On Friday, we revisit and clarify the CDC’s revised definition of “close contact.” Read more here.

    • Last Wednesday, we reviewed a recent CDC study on the survival of SARS-CoV-2 and the influenza virus on human skin accentuating the need for hand hygiene. Read more here.

    • A recent Nature article discusses the positives and negatives of using pooled testing, including optimal group size and sampling frequency. 

    • A recent study in Scientific American discusses “What We Know So Far about how COVID affects the Nervous System.”

    • Recent CDC findings that 83.2% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the food and agriculture sector involved minorities or people of color, even though they make up only 47.4% of all workers in the U.S. This speaks to the importance of having responsive communications and workplace protections that are culturally relevant and understandable.

    • OSHA is offering no-cost, confidential occupational safety and health services to small and medium-sized U.S. businesses. Consultants from state agencies or universities help identify workplace hazards, provide advice on OSHA compliance, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs. Find out more here.

    • Are there any topics or questions that we have not covered yet or did not expand on, previously, regarding COVID-19? Do you have any questions that we haven’t answered yet about COVID-19 and its impact on your business? If so, leave us a message and let us know.

October 23, 2020

October 21, 2020

October 19, 2020

  • In Today’s Recommendations for Industry, we address the increasing media coverage of SARS-CoV-2 being found on meat products imported by other countries. Has the science changed?

  • Global cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 40 million cases (over 1 million deaths). 

  • In case you missed it:

    • On Friday, we discussed considerations for “density, distance, and duration" to reduce COVID-19 superspreading. Read more.

  • Are there any topics or questions that we have not covered yet or did not expand on, previously, regarding COVID-19? Do you have any questions that we haven’t answered yet about COVID-19 and its impact on your business? If so, leave us a message and let us know.

October 16, 2020

October 14, 2020

October 12, 2020

In Today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the complexity of determining indoor “safe spaces” as businesses seek to begin holding in-person meetings.  Read more here.

October 09, 2020

  • In Today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the increasing COVID-19 trends in the European countries – and whether it suggests a similar rise for the U.S.  Read more here.

  • Planning for hurricane season and other potential disasters is stressful enough already; it is even more so with COVID-19. As Hurricane Delta bears down upon the Gulf Coast, shortly after yet another recent hurricane, the CDC updated its Natural Disasters page to account for COVID-19. The CDC provides reminders and resources for preparing for emergency situations, seeking public disaster shelters, and keeping yourself and your loved ones safe. Check the list here.

  • The largest study on COVID-19 presentation in pregnant women reveals that “COVID-19 has a prolonged and nonspecific disease course during pregnancy” and symptoms can last up to 8 or more weeks.

  • A recent study found that “the economic impacts of the pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean finds negative effects concentrated among low-income workers, suggesting that COVID-19 may exacerbate existing economic inequality and negative health outcomes in developing countries.”

  • Weekly Recap:

    • On Monday, we discussed the CDC’s updated mask recommendations. Read more here about what this means for you and your workers.

    • As the seasons are changing, the CDC has released new guidance for hosting gatherings and cook-outs. Remember to remind guests to say home if they are sick; encourage social distancing; continue wearing masks (you don’t know the risks of those who may be attending); clean hands frequently; limit the number of people serving and handling food; and limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items. Follow their suggestions here.

    • OSHA has updated and clarified its guidance on how to report work-related COVID-19 cases, including when to report when illness or death has occurred resulting from work-acquired COVID-19. Read the short explanation from OSHA.

    • A recent study sought to understand “public perceptions of government responses to COVID-19” to “foster improved public cooperation.”  How did the different countries score? Find out here

    • This month is National Health Literacy Month, “a time for organizations and individuals to promote the importance of understandable health information.” One good way to do this is through the use of TAG’s easy-to-understand COVID-19 postable infographicsRead more at health.gov

October 07, 2020

October 05, 2020

  • In Today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss CDC’s updated mask recommendations, Read more here.

  • The world has now topped 35M cases of COVID-19, with a total of 35,227,767 as of today, according to John Hopkins daily tracking.

  • New study findings suggest that loss of smell is a “highly specific COVID-19 symptom” and may even be a stand-alone symptom if the virus. Read the study.

  • As National Health Literacy Month, October is “a time for organizations and individuals to promote the importance of understandable health information.” One good way to do this is through the use of TAG’s easy-to-understand COVID-19 postable infographicsRead more at health.gov

October 02, 2020

September 30, 2020

Another recent study finds that children may be less affected by the coronavirus due to the immune response that is generated. This immune response is “more muted” in adults.  Read the NYT article here; link to research study in article.

September 28, 2020

September 25, 2020

  • In Today’s Recommendations for Industry, we misquote and discuss an old adage in relation to the pandemic. Read more here.

September 23, 2020

September 21, 2020

  • In Today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss COVID-19 testing and the likelihood of false negative results if tested too soon after their exposures. Read more here.

  • CIDRAP summarizes the three latest studies describing in-flight COVID-19 transmission during long-haul flights.  

  • A recent review of data on risk factors for COVID-19 in U.S. community-dwelling adults (between March 1 – June 23, 2020) have identified conditions that can lead to higher hospitalization risk. Among over 5,000 adults, “after adjusting for age, sex, and race/ethnicity”, “hospitalization rates were higher among those with ≥3 underlying conditions like severe obesity, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and asthma. Adjusting for the presence of an individual underlying medical condition, higher hospitalization rates were observed for adults aged ≥65, 45-64 (versus 18-44 years), males (versus females), and non-Hispanic black and other race/ethnicities (versus non-Hispanic whites).”

September 18, 2020

September 16, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss two things: (a) FDA’s publication of comparative performance data for 55 authorized molecular diagnostic COVID-19 tests and (b) The Weekly Risk Matrix. Read more here.

  • In Monday’s Recommendations for Industry, we reviewed the similarities between COVID-19 and the flu and what businesses should do to limit spread of both. Read more here

  • While many symptoms of COVID-19 or Influenza are similar, congestion & runny nose symptoms may be the most ambiguous with common causes including the common cold, allergies, influenza, or COVID-19.  To reduce the number of potential illnesses in a person or population, TAG encourages everyone to get the get the flu vaccine as soon as available.

  • OSHA has updated its face covering/mask-usage guidance for hot and humid environments both Indoors [link to infosheet] and Outdoors [link to infosheet].

  • Apple and Google have both released “COVID-19 Exposure Notification” notifications that allow for secure and private coronavirus contract tracing.

  • The CDC has released new guidance for what to do if your pet tests positive for COVID-19.

September 14, 2020

  • In Today’s Recommendations for Industry, we review the similarities between COVID-19 and the flu and what businesses should do to limit spread of both. Read more here.

  • While many symptoms are indicative of either COVID-19 or Influenza, congestion & runny nose symptoms are a confusing middle ground of other common causes such as the common cold, allergies, influenza, or COVID-19.

  •  We encourage everyone to get the get the flu vaccine as soon as available.

    • If you have any of these symptoms (or an unexplained runny nose or congestion), it’s worth a discussion with a medical professional in order to be medically assessed; Fever or chills, Cough, Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, Fatigue, Muscle or body aches, Headache, New loss of taste or smell, Sore throat, Nausea or vomiting, Diarrhea

  • In recent news, there is a new 15-minute Abbott COVID-19 test in development; and a new method from the University of Illinois method is said to be able to produce 20k results in about 5 hours.

    • iCovid is a home nasal test said to provide “20/40 min results at home” and be “read like a pregnancy test.”

    • The specificity (risk of false-positives) of antigen tests is generally good but the sensitivity (risk of false-negatives) may be questionable, so serial testing of asymptomatic people could potentially provide for better clarity and accuracy if logistically and financially feasible.

September 11, 2020

September 09, 2020

  • In Today’s Recommendations for Industry, we provide this week’s 50-State Risk Matrix assessment. Read more here.

  • ICYMI (in case you missed it), as the fall/winter season approaches for the Northern Hemisphere and allergy seasons begins in the Southern Hemisphere, in Friday’s Recommendations for Industry, we started a discussion on “Is it Flu or COVID-19?” And what should you do about ill employees during flu season? We will discuss this further throughout the next few weeks. Read more here.

  • The CDC has updated its Travel Recommendations to highlight COVID-19 risk for countries around the world. If you are considering international travel, access CDC’s recommendations here.  You can also review Covid Controls for travel and lockdown restrictions by country.

  • The CDC has provided Guiding Principles for Considerations for Restaurants and Bars for assessing risk levels of various policies and configurations. The CDC highlighted the following risk profiles:

    • Lowest Risk: Food service limited to drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curb-side pick-up.

    • More Risk: Drive-through, delivery, take-out, and curb-side pick-up is the primary mode of sales with some on-site dining limited to outdoor seating. Seating capacity reduced to allow tables to be spaced at least 6 feet apart.

    • Even More Risk: On-site dining with both indoor and outdoor seating. Seating capacity reduced to allow tables to be spaced at least 6 feet apart.

    • Highest Risk: On-site dining with both indoor and outdoor seating. Seating capacity not reduced, and tables not spaced at least 6 feet apart.

  • Globally, there are over 27 million cases of COVID-19 (>898,000 deaths).

September 04, 2020

  • Today’s newsletter includes this week’s updated Risk Matrix, which was delayed due to the unavailability of data on which it is based. See the Matrix here.

  • As the fall/winter season approaches for the Northern Hemisphere and allergy seasons begins in the Southern Hemisphere, in Today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss a Q&A on Is it Flu or COVID-19? And what should you do about ill employees during flu season? Read more here.

  • The FDA has translated their consumer COVID-19 resources to an additional five languages (Simplified Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Hmong, and Somali). Materials are already in Spanish and English. Find these multilingual resources on their site!

  • Globally, there are now over 26 million cases of COVID-19. 

  • On Wednesday, we discussed  CDC’s clarification on COVID-19 testing for critical infrastructure establishments and FDA’s take on industry adherence to its employee health and food safety checklist – both of which were discussed on the joint CDC/FDA/OSHA webinar of September 1. We had technical difficulties with the site, on Wednesday. Please find the working link now.

  • Is there – finally – a cause for optimism in the ongoing fight against COVID-19? With late summer bringing a drop in cases in some areas of the U.S., Dr. David Acheson sees a glimmer of hope – but we are not out of it yet by any means. Read more for a summary of the last COVID-19-focused FSMA Friday (done in partnership with SafetyChain).

  • COVID-19 has certainly challenged the food industry – but the industry has answered in force. At the height of the pandemic (during Q2), a new Stericycle Insights Report found that the industry experienced the fewest food recalls due to bacterial contamination in more than a decade. With September being named both National Preparedness Month and National Food Safety Education Month, the report is extremely timely, especially with its added discussion on crisis response. It is a company’s response to any crisis that is critical to its business – a “crisis response must align with the degree of severity of a product recall”. While flexibility and agility have been essential in dealing with the unexpected issues of COVID-19, it has been the companies that invested in crisis preparedness and management before COVID-19 that have been able to best weather the pandemic. This report gives us lots to think on about how we can all be more prepared to handle crises. Read more here.

  • New research finds that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased rates of depression throughout the US, especially in those who are already at increased risk (monetarily, health, etc.). To ensure employees and workers are being protective of themselves, it is just as important to communicate with them and ensure their mental well-being so they may be as protective of others at work!

  • We will not have a post for Monday! Have a wonderful Labor Day Holiday!

September 02, 2020

August 31, 2020

  • Tomorrow, with the month of September, comes two important awareness themes for our industry: National Food Safety Education Month and National Preparedness Month. Not only -are food safety and its practices (and ensuring that everyone is knowledgeable of food safety) critical; but, being prepared for crisis situations (like COVID-19) is imperative to continuing a safe and productive food system. To learn more about the two “awareness” events, read our Recommendations for Business. We will tie in more of these in the next month!

  • The FDA has expanded the EUA for Remdesivir to include all hospitalized patients for treatment of COVID-19. Read the news release from FDA here.

  • The FDA is warning customers (and production facilities) to be vigilant of “alcohol-based hand sanitizers that are being packaged in containers that may appear as food or drinks and may put consumers at risk of serious injury or death if ingested.” [FDA News Release].

  • While COVID-19 temporarily suspended FDA inspections, the FDA has resumed on-site food facility inspections. As part of these inspections and bringing compliance with FSMA’s Intentional Adulteration (IA) Rule, the FDA will also begin initiating a post-investigative Food Defense Quick Check discussion as an “education while we regulate” initiative. What does a Quick Check “conversation” involve and how can you be prepared? Find an easy-to-follow infographic and some quick-takes to help you orient yourself and your company, on TAG’s blog from last week, “Are You Ready for a Food Defense Quick Check?

August 28, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, as the weekend approaches, we are continuing to see increases in cases around the world, so we are once again reiterating our advice: Stay the course. This also relates to testing. Read more here.

  • The FDA has authorized the first diagnostic test that can be read directly from a testing card. The EUA was issued to Abbott for its BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card. [News Release].

    • While the company plans to ship tests in September, Dr. Michael Osterholm (director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) warned that while Abbott boasts that its tests pick up 97% of positive cases, the entire sensitivity sample was only conducted from 102 samples (of which 35 were positive).

    • This test “might be used as a surveillance test”; however, it will require further study. Read Dr. Osterholm’s thoughts on CIDRAP here

  • The FDA is warning customers (and production facilities) to be vigilant of “alcohol-based hand sanitizers that are being packaged in containers that may appear as food or drinks and may put consumers at risk of serious injury or death if ingested.” [FDA News Release]

  • Global cases of COVID-19 have topped 24 million.

August 26, 2020

  • In Today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the updated Risk Matrix. Additionally, The CDC has also updated its testing guidance from testing all close contacts regardless of symptom presentation to only testing when symptoms are present. Additionally, the CDC now says that those who have been tested should remain quarantined until results are provided. Read more.

  • ICYMI (in case you missed it), we’ve received many questions regarding the use of UVC lamps and lights (specifically that companies have been approached by disinfecting companies to use such products). Additionally, the FDA has provided further thoughts on the effectiveness of various UV lamps and lights (as a disinfectant). Read more from Monday’s Recommendations for Industry.

  • Last Friday, we discussed some best practices and advice in providing reasonable accommodations for workers who are – validly – unable to wear masks. Read more here.

  • The CDC has put out updated resources for testing, including how to “Collect Your Anterior Nasal Swab Sample” and “Deep Nasal Self Swab”.  See the graphics here!

August 24, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the new FDA updates on UVC lamps and lights. Read more here.

  • ICYMI, on Friday, we discussed some best practices and advice in providing reasonable accommodations for workers who are – validly – unable to wear masks. Read more here.

  • ICYMI, to support human and animal food operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA & OSHA developed the Employee Health and Food Safety Checklist for Human and Animal Food Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic [PDF]. This checklist allows businesses to assess their operations, including “re-starting operations after a shut down or when reassessing operation[al]” changes resulting from the health crisis. Use this list alongside CDC guidance to ensure you have the basics covered. Finally, this checklist provides a guide for non-US facilities or businesses who “manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for consumption in the United States”. The checklist can be downloaded here.

  • If you or your employees are considering traveling abroad (or arriving from abroad) for business or personal reasons, you can see the current Travel History, Restrictions, and Opening Statuses of any country using an MIT-based application, called Covid Controls. Check it out!

  • While the CDC no longer says that one need quarantine for 14 days from international travel, it recommends quarantining if you expect that you have been exposed to the virus. See the After You Travel section (updated Aug 21).

  • TAG highly recommends that all international travelers quarantine for 14 days.

  • Globally, the number of COVID-19 cases has exceeded 23 million.

August 21, 2020

August 19, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we look at the risk matrix for this past week. For more information, see here.

  • Oleandrin is not a cure for or preventive measure against COVID-19. Please do not ingest or utilize oleandrin to prevent or cure COVID-19. It may actually have potentially toxic and harmful effects.

  • An individual who visited the One-Eyed Jack’s Saloon at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota (in which neither social distancing nor mask-wearing were commonly practiced) has tested positive for coronavirus. Anyone who was at the Sturgis Rally, especially those who were at the Saloon between noon and 5:30 pm on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, should monitor for symptoms for 14 days. Read more here.

August 17, 2020

August 12, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we look at the risk matrix for this past week. Looking quickly at Test Positive Rates, Mississippi, and Texas both continue to see expanding outbreaks. Read more here.

  • Airlines are tightening their mask policies after mandating mask-usage. For a quick summary of airline-to-airline changes and differences, read this US News article, here.

  • Global cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 20 million cases. The U.S. is averaging 1,000 COVID-19-associated deaths per day for the past 2 weeks.

  • A few more hand-sanitizer products have been added to the FDA’s Hand Sanitizers Consumers Should Not Use list. Please check the list against the products you have/are using.

August 12, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we look at the risk matrix for this past week. Looking quickly at Test Positive Rates, Mississippi, and Texas both continue to see expanding outbreaks. Read more here.

  • Airlines are tightening their mask policies after mandating mask-usage. For a quick summary of airline-to-airline changes and differences, read this US News article, here.

  • Global cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 20 million cases. The U.S. is averaging 1,000 COVID-19-associated deaths per day for the past 2 weeks.

  • A few more hand-sanitizer products have been added to the FDA’s Hand Sanitizers Consumers Should Not Use list. Please check the list against the products you have/are using.

August 10, 2020

  • The FDA has revoked the EUA for Autobio Diagnostics Co., Ltd.’s Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Test (a SARS-CoV-2 antibody serology test).

  • There are almost 1 million COVID-19 cases on the African continent. The World Health Organization is ramping up COVID-19 support to hotspot countries, including South Africa. Read more from WHO here.

  • In today's Recommendations for Industry, we briefly discuss how school openings might affect your business. Read more here. 

  • A recent study shows that asymptomatic COVID-19 patients shed COVID-19 viral particles at similar concentrations as symptomatic COVID-19 patients. Hence, it is imperative that we all wear masks (to protect others from ourselves), continue to practice social distancing, and wash our hands frequently! Read the study here!

  • If you have fully recovered from COVID-19 (confirmed by a positive test), the US Health and Human Services hopes that you will donate your plasma (which now contains COVID-19 antibodies) that may be able to help others fight off the disease. Find out more and where to donate here

August 7, 2020

  • The global case count of COVID-19 cases has exceeded 19 million.

  • Avoid consuming chlorine products or chlorine dioxide products as a treatment for COVID-19.

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the limitations, risks, and considerations of rapid COVID-19 testing. Read more here.

August 5, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we have our weekly risk update. We explore what has changed in the U.S. in the past week, including states that may be of concern in the upcoming weeks. Read more here.

  • As “the effects of COVID-19 on the health of racial and ethnic minority groups is still emerging”, the CDC is set on promoting health equity in its COVID-19 response as “a disproportionate burden of illness and death among [racial and ethnic minority] groups”. Watch the CDC video presentation as “presenters from local jurisdictions and national organizations discuss actions taken to mitigate the disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities” including “strategies to reduce COVID-19 health inequities for racial and ethnic minorities at the local, state, and national level”. Watch here on Youtube.

  • There is still no cure for COVID-19. Please be wary of any company or group that may be selling cures to relieve, cure, or prevent COVID-19. 

August 3, 2020

  • Global COVID-19 cases have exceeded 18 million cases (with over 690,000 deaths). The United States accounts for 4.6 million of these cases. 

  • Recommendations for Industry, TAG has received many inquiries about businesses beginning large-scale testing of employees. Between the need to maintain the food supply and to protect public health, there are some essential factors that businesses should consider in COVID-19 testing.  

July 31, 2020

  • Global COVID-19 cases have exceeded 17 million cases (with over 600,000 deaths). The United States accounts for almost 4.5 million of these cases. Read more about its impacts here, through CIDRAP.

  • Recommendations for Industry, TAG has received many inquiries about sharing graphics developed by TAG in public forums outside of food and beverage facilities (including an updated Symptoms infographic poster – which illustrates various COVID-19 symptoms). Read more here and please share

  • The CDC has updated its guidelines on Cleaning and Disinfect facilities. Find it here

    • Please note that the below applies to the context of cleaning and sanitation.

      • Temporarily turn off in-room, window-mounted, or on-wall recirculation HVAC to avoid contamination of the HVAC units.

      • Do NOT deactivate central HVAC systems. These systems tend to provide better filtration capabilities and introduce outdoor air into the areas that they serve.

      • Consider temporarily turning off room fans and the central HVAC system that services the room or space, so that particles that escape from vacuuming will not circulate throughout the facility.

      • Otherwise, air should be moving out as much as possible

    • Additionally, “the efficacy of alternative disinfection methods, such as ultrasonic waves, high-intensity UV radiation, and LED blue light against COVID-19 virus is not known”.

  • A few weeks ago, the White House shifted COVID-19 reporting data collection from the CDC to a new online system run by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, citing a quicker, more transparent, and accurate release of COVID-19 data. Despite these promises, this public data hub has not been kept up-to-date and has begun reporting data sporadically, leading to a House investigation [Link to Memo]. Read more here

  • While COVID-19 has delayed FDA routine inspections of small businesses to verify compliance with FSMA’s International Adulteration Rule, the expected compliance date (July 27, 2020) has not changed. If you and your business have not yet put together a food defense program (or you’d like to review your current food defense program to protect your facility), TAG has summarized the rule and compiled some best practices for you, here.

  • A new research paper explores the expansive and role of aerosol transmission as it occurred aboard the Diamond Princess. Read more here.

  • The CDC has released its “COVID-19 Response Health Equity Strategy: Accelerating Progress Towards Reducing COVID-19 Disparities and Achieving Health Equity”. Read more about how the CDC hopes to tackle the health inequities that have become more apparent as a result of this pandemic

July 29, 2020

  • With the start of the school year fast approaching and moving forward into the influenza season, last week, we discussed the importance of vaccines to protect your workforce. Read more here.

  • In Today’s Recommendations for Industry, we provide an update on the Weekly Risk Matrix to see what has changed over the past week. States with growing outbreaks include Mississippi, Arizona, Florida, and Alabama, amongst others. Read more here.

  • The USDA has provided an update on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the beef industry. Read more from the news briefing here. Click here to access the report.

  • Please be wary and alert about misinformation regarding COVID-19. It is essential to continue to wear cloth face coverings or masks as it is protective of others. Please regularly wash your hands. Finally, hydroxychloroquine has not proven effective against SARS-CoV-2.

  • Access the growing list of hand-sanitizers that the FDA has deemed dangerous because they contain methanol. Not only is methanol dangerous when ingested, it is also dangerous when applied to the skin (as it can be absorbed through your skin). Methanol can lead to adverse events, including blindness, cardiac effects, and other issues leading to potential illness and death. Click here to ensure the hand sanitizer you and your business are using are not on this list!

July 27, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the plethora of data, availability of testing, and what other steps you might follow to allow employees back into the workplace post-infection. Read more here.

  • Although not related to COVID-19, there is a rapidly growing outbreak of Salmonella Newport. There is currently no identification of food(s) associated with the outbreak. Read more from the CDC.

  • The FDA has authorized the first diagnostic test for screening of people without known or suspected COVID-19 infection. The LabCorp COVID-19 RT-PCR Test can be used for anyone, regardless of displaying COVID-19 symptoms or not to allow for broader screening. Read more from the FDA here.

July 24, 2020

  • With the start of the school year fast approaching and moving forward into the influenza season, today’s Recommendations for Industry, addresses the importance of vaccines to protect your workforce. Read more here. 

  • On Wednesday, we updated our quick breakdown of the U.S. risk this week. What does the available COVID-19 data tell us about reopening, risk, and travel? Read more here.

  • In Wednesday’s Q&A, we further explored the new CDC isolation guidelines, to answer: “I saw that the CDC released new guidance for criteria to release people diagnosed with COVID-19 from isolation. Do we need to change anything in our business to be sure we are following their guidance?” Read more here.

  • FDA has published its New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, “propelled” into more “concrete and essential action plans” through the agency’s experiences and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on FSMA’s preventive approach, application of science- and risk-based standards, and flexible framework, the blueprint outlines the approaches FDA will take over the next decade to its four core elements: Tech-Enabled Traceability, Smarter Tools and Approaches for Prevention and Outbreak Response, New Business Models and Retail Modernization, and Food Safety Culture. How will the four core elements impact food safety and you? Read more here.

  • We have updated our Symptoms Pictograph with all the most recent updated symptoms. The posters are now available in English and Spanish.  

July 22, 2020

  • Yesterday, the U.S. number of daily COVID-19-related deaths exceeded 1,000 in a day for the first time.

  • Global COVID-19 cases have exceeded 15 million cases.

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we update our quick breakdown of the U.S. this week. What does the available COVID-19 data tell us about reopening, risk and travel? Read more here. 

  • In TAG’s Q&A, we further explore the new CDC isolation guidelines, to answer: “I saw that the CDC released new guidance for criteria to release people diagnosed with COVID-19 from isolation. Do we need to change anything in our business to be sure we are following their guidance?” Read more here.

  • The WHO, UNAIDS, UNDP, and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University have launched COVID-19 Law Lab. The COVID-19 Law Lab "is an initiative that gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries across the world to help [member] states establish and implement strong legal frameworks to manage the pandemic. The goal is to ensure that laws protect the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities and that they adhere to international human rights standards". Read more about the COVID-19 Law Lab here

July 20, 2020

  • The CDC has released factsheets for young adults (ages 15 – 21years old). The factsheets cover a variety of topics, including what test results mean, how to stay safe at the pool or beach, how to wear a face covering and other preventive measures. The graphics demonstrate appropriate mask use for the general public, and can be used to remind everyone of the importance of preventive measures (wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing) while in public!

    • Protecting Yourself and Others from COVID-19 in public [PDF link]

    • Wearing a Cloth Mask to Protect Yourself and Your Friends [PDF link]

    • Staying Safe at the Pool / Beach [PDF link]

    • Slow the Spread of COVID-19 [PDF link]

    • Do it for yourself and your friends [PDF link]

    • What Your Test Results Mean [PDF link]

  • The CDC has released a notice for when you can be around others after you have had COVID-19 or COVID-19 symptoms that updates the amount of time a person should be fever free without using fever-reducing medication from 72 hours to 24 hours, the notice states that you can be around others after:

    • At least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and

    • At least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication and

    • Symptoms have improved

July 17, 2020

 

ICYMI (Mask Week + More):

  • This week, the global count of COVID-19 cases has risen above 13 million; global deaths have exceeded 590,000.

  • In Wednesday’s Recommendations for Industry, we provide an update on the Weekly Risk Matrix to see what has changed over the past week. Read more here.

  • As many states are requiring mask usage (and many individuals may or may not comply on a personal level), for fear of sounding like a broken record, we revisited the basics of mask usage in last Friday’s Recommendations for Industry.

  • Last Friday, we discussed some “Truths of Masks” from O2/CO2 values, asymptomatic spread, and protective measures. Read more here.

  • On Monday, we discussed some of the questions we have received about masks, including “Should I wear a mask when I’m alone in the car?” to  “Employees wear masks at work, but when they’re at parties or get-togethers, they remove their masks and stand very close to one another; why is that?” Read more here.

  • Behavior change is difficult. Individuals may not wear masks (or socially distance) in certain situations due to optimism bias. Optimism bias occurs when someone believes that negative things are less likely to happen to them; people believe that positive events are more likely to happen and underestimate the probability of negative/adverse events happening to them (Sharot, 2011). We see optimism bias relative to food safety (e.g., people don’t believe they are likely to acquire foodborne illness from their own food preparations) and also with COVID-19 (e.g., people think they're unlikely to become ill because they may not have preconditions or may not be in a specific age range). Optimism bias can be dangerous.  

  • Up until Wednesday (July 15), COVID-19 data from hospitals were reported to the CDC. The White House now mandates that all COVID-19 data be sent directly to the Department of Health and Human Services, instead of the CDC. Read more here or here.

  • The new MMRW discusses the “Absence of Apparent Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from Two Stylists After Exposure at a Hair Salon with a Universal Face Covering Policy — Springfield, Missouri, May 2020”. We discuss this further today.

  • A recent study published in The Lancet of SARS-CoV-2 in Spain has found that “the majority of the Spanish population is seronegative to SARS-CoV-2 infection, even in hotspot areas. Most PCR-confirmed cases have detectable antibodies, but a substantial proportion of people with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 did not have a PCR test. Additionally, at least a third of infections determined by serology were asymptomatic. These results emphasize the need for maintaining public health measures to avoid a new epidemic wave.” Read the paper here.

  • There has been an increase in what is known as “COVID parties” where individuals gather at a party at which at least one individual attending has been tested/confirmed with COVID to see if anyone gets sick and/or to test if the virus really exists. There have been cases in which individuals (who had not believed in the severity of COVID-19) have fallen ill and died after attending a “COVID party.”.

  • The New York Times has put together a full timeline of the COVID-19 epidemic. Read more here.

  • Please be wary of the hand sanitizing products you are buying. There is an increasing number of illegal hand sanitizer products that, instead of containing ethanol, are being adultered with methanol (or wood alcohol). Refer to FDA’s list of recalled brands/products that contain methanol. AVOID THESE PRODUCTS!  Methanol is a toxic compound when absorbed through the skin and can be life-threatening if ingested. It is not supposed to be in hand sanitizers.

July 15, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss provide an update on the Weekly Risk Matrix to see what has changed over the past week. Read more here.

  • Up until today, COVID-19 data from hospitals were reported to the CDC. As of today, the White House is mandating that COVID-19 now be sent directly to the Department of Health and Human Services, instead of the CDC. Read more here or here.

  • The new MMRW discusses the “Absence of Apparent Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from Two Stylists After Exposure at a Hair Salon with a Universal Face Covering Policy — Springfield, Missouri, May 2020”. We will discuss this further on Friday. Read more here.

  • A recent study published in The Lancet of SARS-CoV-2 in Spain has found that “the majority of the Spanish population is seronegative to SARS-CoV-2 infection, even in hotspot areas. Most PCR-confirmed cases have detectable antibodies, but a substantial proportion of people with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 did not have a PCR test. [Additionally,] at least a third of infections determined by serology were asymptomatic. These results emphasi[z]e the need for maintaining public health measures to avoid a new epidemic wave.” Read the paper here.

  • There are now over 13 million COVID-19 cases, globally. 

July 13, 2020

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss some of the questions we have received about masks, including “Should I wear a mask when I’m alone in the car?” to  “Employees wear masks at work, but when they’re at parties or get-togethers, they remove their masks and stand very close to one another; why is that?” Read more here.

  • Behavior change is difficult. Individuals may not wear masks (or socially distance) in certain situations due to optimism bias. Optimism bias occurs when someone believes that negative things are less likely to happen to them; people believe that positive events are more likely to happen and underestimate the probability of negative events happening to them (Sharot, 2011). We see optimism bias relative to food safety (e.g., people don’t believe they are likely to acquire foodborne illness from their own food preparations) and also with COVID-19 (e.g., people believe they are unlikely to become ill because they may not have preconditions or may not be in a certain age range). Optimism bias can be dangerous.   

  • As of today, Monday, Florida is now reporting >12,000 new cases

  • The New York Times has put together a full timeline of the COVID-19 epidemic. Read more here.

  • There has been an increase in what is known as “COVID parties” in which individuals gather at a party in which at least one individual attending has been tested/confirmed with COVID to see if anyone gets sick and/or to test if the virus really exists. There have been many cases in which individuals (who had not believed in the severity of COVID-19) have fallen ill and died.

  • Please do not forget to check your hand sanitizers. For the full FDA list of hand-sanitizers that contain dangerous chemicals other than ethanol, please see here

July 10, 2020

  • The global count of COVID-19 cases has exceeded 12 million; global deaths have exceeded 500,000.  

  • U.S. Coronavirus cases (and associated deaths) are steadily rising. As we enter the weekend, please remember to maintain social distance, wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene (wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer – that doesn’t contain methanol), and cover your nose/mouth when you cough/sneeze.

  • Please be wary of the hand sanitizing products you are buying. There is an increasing number of illegal hand sanitizer products that, instead of containing ethanol, are being adultered with methanol (or wood alcohol). Refer to FDA’s list of brands/products that contain methanol. AVOID THESE PRODUCTS!  Methanol is a toxic compound when absorbed through the skin and can be life-threatening if ingested. It is not supposed to be in hand sanitizers.

  • Factual Fridays: The Truth of Masks

    • Wearing a mask will not reduce your oxygen (O2) levels and will not cause carbon dioxide (CO2) buildup. Cloth face coverings and also properly fitted masks offer adequate airflow.

    • Increasing evidence shows that COVID-19 is spread asymptomatically (by those who do not show symptoms, at all). Wearing a mask protects others from YOU if you are potentially asymptomatic!

    • Even while wearing a mask, it is crucial to continue to social distance. While masks are protective (and protect others from your respiratory droplets), when it is combined with social distancing (and hand-washing, etc.), you are increasing protective measures for yourself and others!

  • As many states are requiring mask usage (and many individuals may or may not comply on a personal level), for fear of sounding like a broken record, we are revisiting the basics of mask usage in today’s Recommendations for Industry. Please feel free to share any of this (and the Truth of Masks) to those you believe need to see this.

July 08, 2020

July 06, 2020

ICYMI (Week of June 29- July 3)

  • There are now over 10 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.

  • The CDC has updated its list and criteria of individuals (at any age) who are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Further information can be found here.

    • People of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19: Chronic kidney disease; COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant; Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher); Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies; Sickle cell disease; Type 2 diabetes mellitus

  • Based on the CDC's current knowledge, people with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19: Asthma (moderate-to-severe); Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain); Cystic fibrosis; Hypertension or high blood pressure; Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines; Neurologic conditions, such as dementia; Liver disease; Pregnancy; Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues); Smoking; Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder); Type 1 diabetes mellitus

  • The CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are challenging to maintain.

    • Cloth face coverings should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

  • With the increased spread of COVID-19 across many states, today's Q&A focuses on updates to employee travel (business or vacation) with an updated TAG Risk Matrix to determine risk-based travel policies. The risk matrix has been updated with data from this past week (June 22 – 28, 2020). Read more in today's Recommendations for Industry.

  • With the increased spread of COVID-19 across many states, today's Recommendations for Industry explores a recent NY Times article discussing COVID-19 apparent spread through "superspreader events" which may help in its control. Read more in today's Recommendations for Industry.

  • The World Health Organization has come out with its timeline of WHO's response to COVID-19; you can track the entire timeline from the start until now, here on their site. 

  • With the increased spread of COVID-19 across many states, upcoming holidays, and good weather, we've received questions about employee's off-time. In today's Recommendations for Industry Q&A, we touch upon how concerned you should be about what your employees are doing during their off-time (and if they are remaining protective against COVID-19). Read more in today's Recommendations for Industry.

  • To show Americans on a state/county level about the potential risk of where they are, the Harvard Global Health Institute has put together a COVID Risk Levels Dashboard that depicts risk level by state and county using cases/100K people.

    • This dashboard differs from TAG's own Risk Matrix (discussed below), which considers other factors like test-positive rates, positive cases per capita, etc.  

  • Starting this week, TAG's COVID-19 newsletter will be three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). For more information, see our Recommendations for Industry.

  • Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last several months, based on TAG's analysis of data from openFDA API, recalls have decreased between the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020. The Acheson Group commends the food industry and its continued focus on food safety despite the pandemic. But what more can this data tell us about how recalls are reported, managed, and its impacts? Read more here.

  • FDA has put out a warning to consumers and health care professionals about the potential for some hand sanitizer products containing methanol or wood alcohol! These ingredients are toxic! Read more from the FDA.

July 02, 2020

  • Starting next week, TAG’s COVID-19 newsletter will be three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). For more information, see our Recommendations for Industry.

  • In advance of 4th of July holiday, we will not have a newsletter tomorrow! However, as people are considering hanging out in the sun, it is absolutely imperative that you remember to maintain COVID-19 preventive measures and precautions (including: social distancing, mask usage, and frequent washing of hands). For more information, please see our Recommendations for Industry.

  • Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last several months, based on TAG's analysis of data from openFDA API, recalls have decreased between the first half of 2019 to the first half of 2020. The Acheson Group commends the food industry and its continued focus on food safety despite the pandemic. But what more can this data tell us about how recalls are reported, managed, and its impacts? Read more here.

  • FDA has put out a warning to consumers and health care professionals about the potential for some hand sanitizer products containing methanol or wood alcohol! These ingredients are toxic! Read more from the FDA.

July 01, 2020

  • With the increased spread of COVID-19 across many states, upcoming holidays, and good weather, we’ve received questions about employee’s off-time. In today’s Recommendations for Industry Q&A, we touch upon how concerned you should be about what your employees are doing during their off-time (and if they are remaining protective against COVID-19). Read more in today’s Recommendations for Industry.

  • Starting next week, we will be moving to a Monday/Wednesday/Friday update schedule.

  • To show Americans on a state/county level about the potential risk of where they are, the Harvard Global Health Institute has put together a COVID Risk Levels Dashboard that depicts risk level by state and county using cases/100K people.

June 30, 2020

June 29, 2020

June 27, 2020

ICYMI (Week of June 22-26)

  • This week, the number of COVID-19 cases has exceeded 9 million.

  • Despite suspensions on imports into China due to discovering COVID-19 on food surfaces, it is important to remember that there remains no evidence to indicate that COVID-19 is transmitted through food!

    • While China has suspended some imports and increased COVID-19 surveillance for imports, the U.S. CDC, U.S. FDA, World Health Organization, European Food Safety Authority, and even China’s CDC reiterate that “there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 through food”. Read more here.

    • TAG further discusses the implications of COVID-19 food testing, “COVID-19 and Food: Contact but not Transmission,” which you can read here.

  • This week, we begin TAG’s Q&A to answer questions that we frequently receive:

  • Pets are family; but what happens if pets get COVID-19? Read more in last Saturday’s Recommendations for Industry.

  • It is summertime and people are ready to travel. Due to the increase in cases, some significant travel changes are happening:

June 26, 2020

June 25, 2020

  • In today’s Q&A, TAG has been asked if we should be concerned with COVID-19 transmission through food, especially resulting from China’s increased testing of food and import restrictions. Read more in today’s Recommendations for Industry

  • With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise globally, the WHO has created a cartoon, starring Mr. Bean to support health messaging. Mr. Bean’s Essential COVID-19 Checklist reminds people about the “importance of washing hands, physical distancing, and demonstrating kindness to their neighbors.” See the video below or watch it on Youtube.

  • There have been questions regarding breastfeeding and COVID-19. Based on currently available evidence, the “WHO recommends that mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged to initiate or continue to breastfeed.” Read more here

  • On Wednesday, June 24, the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut issued a travel advisory: anyone traveling to these states from a state with a high number of coronavirus cases is required to quarantine for 14 days. Although IDs are not currently being checked, anyone found to have violated this will be fined and put under mandatory quarantine. This advisory currently applies to Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas. Changes will be based on a 7-day rolling average.

  • TAG further discusses the implications of food testing on our blog post, “COVID-19 and Food: Contact but not Transmission,” which you can read here.

June 24, 2020

June 22, 2020

  • The FDA has released a list of serological tests that should no longer be distributed for COVID-19. For the full list, please see here. If you are considering different types of serological tests, please make sure the tests you are using are not on this list!

  • By using mini-organs, researchers are able to see, first-hand, how the coronavirus attacks the body. Read more on Nature, here

  • The total number of COVID-19 cases has exceeded 9 million.

  • To date, there remains no evidence to indicate that COVID-19 is transmitted through food.

June 20, 2020

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ICYMI (Week of June 15-20)

  • Today, Saturday June 20, 2020 is World Refugee Day 2020. This year, the focus is on highlighting “the lives, the work and the societal contributions of refugees and migrants for a united response to a common public health threat: the COVID-19 pandemic”. Read more, here.

  • Today, we discuss COVID-19 and pets! Read more in our Recommendations for Industry.

  • This past week, we reviewed TAG’s analysis of states’ current statuses based upon available data.

    • More than a few states have moved into a higher-risk status, thus underscoring the importance of maintaining vigilance and continuing all worker protections (wellness checks, six-foot distancing, employee hygiene, and increased sanitation, and mask usage).

    • To better understand what these observed increases in cases really mean, it’s important to interpret the relevant data (that doesn’t just include case counts). One must also consider infection rate, positive test rate, and hospitalizations/ICU capacity. Read more about how TAG has started digging into the data, here.

    • TAG has provided a breakdown of the test positive rate compared to tests provided per 100K population for each state for June 08 – June 14, 2020. See this chart, here.

    • Every week, TAG will release its weekly analysis of state-by-state risk and recommendations based upon released data sources.

    • For a run-down of the analysis, what you can do with the analysis, and for an update of this week’s analysis, see Wednesday’s Recommendations for Industry. We talk about the current status of positive test rates in the U.S. and the importance of maintaining a high-level of vigilance as states continue to open. Read more, here.

    • For analysis and recommendations for high-risk states, please read Thursday’s discussion. These states include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon, and South Carolina

  • This week, the CDC also posted new guidance on COVID-19 testing strategies. For a summary of its impacts, check out Tuesday’s Recommendations for Industry.

  • Additionally, the CDC and ADA do not permit antibody tests as part of allowing employees to re-enter the workplace. Read more from Friday’s discussion!

  • With the number of warning letters issued to CBD companies for making health claims over the last few months, it seems that that “wild west attitude” is still prevalent, and even heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The FDA and FTC have issued 9 warning letters to CBD companies for selling fraudulent COVID-19 cures. Read more about what's happening! 

  • FDA has notified states that they can begin to conduct Produce Safety Rule (PSR) inspections on farms, following their state’s, and any federal, safety and reopening guidelines. Inspections will be phased in while still paying attention to the pandemic. Read more to find out what this means for you! 

 

June 19, 2020

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  • The FDA has a new, easier-to-navigate web section dedicated to Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for Medical Devices as part of COVID-19. This resource provides information on EUAs.

  • World Refugee Day 2020 is June 20, 2020. This year, the focus is on highlighting “the lives, the work and the societal contributions of refugees and migrants for a united response to a common public health threat: the COVID-19 pandemic”. Read more, here.

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we further discuss how the ADA does not permit antibody tests.

  • With the number of warning letters issued to CBD companies for making health claims over the last few months, it seems that that “wild west attitude” is still prevalent, and even heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The FDA and FTC have issued 9 warning letters to CBD companies for selling fraudulent COVID-19 cures. Read more about what's happening! 

  • In TAG’s May 2020 FSMA Fridays webinar, TAG President and CEO Dr. David Acheson MD and Senior Director, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Dr. Ben Miller, Ph.D., MPH discussed Responsibly Reopening and Rebounding from COVID-19. Read more for an overview of the webinar where they cover COVID-19 testing, state-to-state return-to-work COVID-19 variations, and what it means to resume travel in this re-opening phase. 

June 18, 2020

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  • Based on CDC’s Interim guidelines, antibody test results “should not be used to make decisions about returning persons to the workplace”. Antibody tests do not meet the ADA’s “job related and consistent with business necessity”. Therefore, antibody tests are not allowed for employees to re-enter the workplace. We will discuss this more, tomorrow. Read more, here.

  • Today we discuss High-Risk States based on the analytics that are available. Please see today’s Recommendations for Industry.

June 17, 2020

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  • The FDA has revoked Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Chembio Antibody Test due to the test generating a higher than expected rate of false results. These false results are higher than that reflected in the authorized labeling for the device. Read more, here.

  • TAG will begin to release its weekly analysis of state-by-state risk and recommendations based upon released data sources. For a run-down of this analysis (and for this week’s analysis), please see today’s Recommendations for Industry

June 16, 2020

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June 15, 2020

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June 13, 2020

ICYMI Weekly Recap: June 08 – June 13

June 12, 2020

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  • The CDC has developed a COVID-19 Social Media Toolkit to help “localize efforts in responding to the virus that causes COVID-19. This toolkit provides messages and graphics to help:(a) Ensure current, correct messaging from a trusted source; (b) Create collateral materials; (c) Share resources. All graphics and messaging can be used on social media. Download the toolkit, here.

  • In time for Factual Friday, the World Health Organization has put out graphical social media messages and “Myth Busters” for COVID-19. Find graphics for busted COVID-19 myths (ranging from: “Can shoes spread COVID-19?” to “Will drinking alcohol protect from COVID-19"), here on their site.

  •  There are currently no FDA-approved products to prevent or treat COVID-19. The FDA has issued many citations and warnings for products claiming to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 in people.

  • While the FDA has temporarily suspended routine onsite facility inspections, food facilities are not off the hook for verifying their foreign suppliers during COVID-19. Since April, the FDA has issued 12 FSVP warning letters. Read more to see what issues these letters brought up!

  • In today’s Return to Work update: Considerations for Travel, we talk about what considerations you may take when thinking about the mode of travel. Read more in today’s Recommendations for Industry, here.

June 11, 2020

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  • Today, we discuss “Return to Work: Considerations for Travel” part 3. Please read our Recommendations for Industry, today!

  • A COVID-19 patient (in her 20s with no serious underlying medical condition), received a double lung transplant after her lungs were devastated from COVID-19. She is making a good recovery. Read more, here!

  • The Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings has developed a children’s book to help children around the world cope with COVID-19. You can download a PDF of, “My Hero is You: How Kids can Fight COVID-19" in English, here.

June 10, 2020

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  • Even though many areas are opening up, multiple states are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. It is important to remember to practice risk mitigation strategies that include:

    • Maintaining social distance,

    • Wearing a face mask,

    • Increasing hand hygiene practices (washing hands more frequently), and

    • Practicing good respiratory hygiene practices (covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing).

  • As part of our “Return to Work: Travel” series, today we cover considerations needed for Essential and Non-Essential Travel.  Please see our Recommendations for Industry.

June 09, 2020

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  • The World Health Organization clarifies its stance of asymptomatic COVID-19 spreaders. TL;DR: “current estimates indicated anywhere between 6 and 41 percent of the population could have COVID-19 without knowing it, and those people could in turn pass the virus on to others.” Read more and what preventive strategies can be done to minimize COVID-19 spread in our Recommendations for Industry section, today

June 08, 2020

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June 06, 2020

  • Based on evolving evidence, the WHO advises that masks should be worn “where there is widespread [COVID-19] transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops, or in other confined or crowded environments”.

  • World Food Safety Day 2020 is tomorrow, June 07, 2020. Read below for a message from Dr. David Acheson.

 

ICYMI Weekly Recap (June 01-05)

A Message from Dr. David Acheson for World Food Safety Day 2020 

In recognition of the second observance of the UN-declared World Food Safety, tomorrow, June 7, The Acheson Group (TAG) would like to recognize and commend all those who work to keep the world’s food safe for consumers. As an expert team of food safety and public health consultants, TAG works with an outstanding group of clients who are genuinely interested in and focused on ensuring their food and beverage products are grown, produced, and sold in as safe a manner as possible.

Despite the adversities of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the food industry rise to the challenge and strive to continue a dedicated focus on food safety while working to safeguard their workers. It has not been easy, and the efforts have had to evolve as COVID-19 knowledge and understanding has evolved. But, as a whole, we are weathering the storm and looking to come out the other side with some new lessons, offerings, and technologies.

We thank you all for your dedication, and we look forward to continuing to work with our long-standing clients, our newly partnered COVID-19-focused clients, and new food safety and public health clients we have yet to meet.

 

David Acheson

TAG President and CEO

June 05, 2020

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June 04, 2020

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  • As an increasing number of people are re-engaging with one another and engaging actively within the public sphere as stay-a-home orders are relaxed, preventive measures are still paramount to mitigate the potential of COVID-19 spread. Risk mitigation and preventive measures include social distancing, increasing hand hygiene practices (washing hands, using >60% hand sanitizer), and wearing masks.

    • In instances where social distancing (keeping 6 feet) from others is not possible (or is difficult to maintain), wearing a mask and increasing hand hygiene practices, practicing good respiratory hygiene (e.g. covering one’s mouth when sneezing or coughing) are still protective for oneself and others.

  • A new article in Science, “Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2” stresses that, “Masks and testing are necessary to combat asymptomatic spread in aerosols and droplets”.

    • Research indicates that asymptomatic individuals (“silent shedders”) are critical drivers of the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

    • Universal mask usage would result in the least amount of exposure.

    • “Aerosol transmission of viruses must be acknowledged as a key factor leading to the spread of infectious respiratory diseases. Evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 is silently spreading in aerosols exhaled by highly contagious infected individuals with no symptoms."

June 03, 2020

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June 02, 2020

  • A new systematic review and meta-analysis article was released on  “Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19”. The big take-aways are:

    • Physical distancing of 1m or more is a good preventive measure to lower viral transmission. Protective measures increased with increased distance. TAG recommends 2m or more. 

    • Face mask use can lower reduction in risk of infection

    • Eye protection is also associated with less infection

  • TAG does not recommend the use of face shields as a replacement for face masks. We will discuss this further later this week.

June 01, 2020

  • The total global count of COVID-19 surges past 6 million.

  • A new journal article discusses, “How can airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors be minimized?”, read it free, here. Many thoughts include “appropriate building engineering controls includ[ing] sufficient and effective ventilation” and “avoiding overcrowding” that should be implemented “in parallel with effective application of other controls (including isolation and quarantine, social distancing and hand hygiene” also reflect CDC’s COVID-19 recommendations for office buildings. Read a quick summary below in our Recommendations for Industry. 

  • Be wary of fraudulent products, including non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Please ensure that any hand sanitizer you purchase contains at least 60%-alcohol.

May 30, 2020

ICYMI Weekly Recap (May 26-29)

  • Federal (CDC, OSHA) and state public health agencies are teaming up to conduct intensive COVID-19 inspections of food facilities. What does this mean for you? What will they be looking for? Find out more about the different checklists here.

  • 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. Read more about these types of inquiries here.

  • What’s happening across the food industry?

  • What about audits? The GFSI community has worked hard to establish an industry-wide position that best serves the food and beverage industry and consumers during COVID-19. Read more on CPO-specific requirements for an extension for SQF, BRC Global Standards, and FSSC 22000.  

  • In COVID-19 testing news, the FDA removed a few serological tests for COVID-19 from distribution.

  • The FDA continues to crack down on companies and fraudulent COVID-19 products. There is a preliminary injunction against Xephyr LLC, which distributed colloidal silver products as a prevention/cure against COVID-19. There are currently no cures, preventions, etc. for COVID-19.  

  • The CDC has also released new interim guidance for office buildings for re-opening in the COVID-19 recovery period; here’s a quick summary!

The CDC also updated its symptoms guidance to include a few more symptoms. How does this affect you?

May 29, 2020

May 28, 2020

  • The FDA has published new guidance for human food establishments who may need to report a temporary closure or significant production reduction and may need FDA assistance during COVID-19. Read a summary in the Recommendations for Industry.

  • The GFSI community has worked hard to establish an industry-wide position that best serves the food and beverage industry and consumers during COVID-19. Read more on CPO-specific requirements for an extension for SQF, BRC Global Standards, and FSSC 22000.  

  • The FDA continues to crack down on companies and fraudulent COVID-19 products. There is a preliminary injunction against Xephyr LLC, which distributed colloidal silver products as a prevention/cure against COVID-19. There are currently no cures, preventions, etc. for COVID-19.  

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.

May 26, 2020

May 23, 2020

Please note: we will not have a post this upcoming Monday, May 25, 2020. Have a safe Memorial Day Weekend; see you back here on Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

 

ICYMI Weekly Recap (May 18-23)

 

We have updated our Daily Newsletter Archive page to reflect everything that has happened.

May 22, 2020

May 21, 2020

  • Be wary of companies, even those that are a part of the Amazon Associates program, who are promoting and selling vitamin products with misleading claims of mitigating, preventing, treating, diagnosing, or curing COVID-19 in people.

  • While the FDA has authorized 105 COVID-19 tests (92 molecular, 12 antibody, and 1 antigen test), it is important to know what you will do with the testing information if you decide to implement an employee testing program. For thoughts on the different tests that are currently available, please contact us!

  • As businesses are considering re-opening, it is still important to practice social distancing and use masks. On our COVID-19 Downloadable Resources page, we have Mask resources including “How to Properly Put On and Remove Masks”, an updated version of “Why Wear Masks” (for workforce and customers), and #ReturnToWork “A Day in the Life” posters and graphics with new languages, including Spanish, French, and Portuguese available for download. If you are having trouble downloading any graphics, please let us know.

May 20, 2020

May 19, 2020

  • As part of the Return to Work process, we have updated our “Preventive Control Hierarchy” Diagram. It is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Please download at our COVID-19 Downloadable Resources page. 

  • We also have a new poster/graphic depicting “A Day in the Life”. Please find the graphic downloadable at our COVID-19 Downloadable Resources page. 

May 18, 2020

  • The FDA has provided an infosheet on “Coronavirus Testing Basics”.

  • As part of the Return to Work process, we have updated our downloadable resources to include a new poster/graphic depicting “A Day in the Life”. Please find the graphic downloadable at our COVID-19 Downloadable Resources page. 

May 16, 2020

In case you missed it:

  • Employee Wellness Screenings are important to quickly identify new potential cases. But why do they cover so many areas of employee health? Read more to find out!

  • Have you wondered how COVID-19 can spread through the community? The CDC released a new video, “How COVID-19 Can Spread in a Community,” discussing community transmission that started and spread from two family gatherings in Chicago, Illinois.

  • Is your business considering return-to-work policies? If you have questions, The Acheson Group is here to help! Contact us, today!

  • What are the risks of travel (essential or vacation) on the return-to-work process? Read more to learn about considerations as you assess our risks.

  • As TAG begins to also develop its own travel risk assessments and travel policies, we will be sharing these with you!

  • The FDA has released “Best Practices for Re-Opening Retail Food Establishments” guidance. TAG recommends ensuring that you meet all these requirements prior to re-opening. The FDA has also provided a reopening checklist [PDF] and infographic [PDF] for previously closed retail food establishments.

    • For the Checklist, click here.

    • For the Best Practices Infographic, click here.

  • Due to some concerning observations we have made, TAG would like to remind everyone that masks/face coverings must cover both nose and mouth. Coronavirus particles travel through respiratory droplets (saliva, mucus, snot, etc.).

    • See, use, and share the “Why Wear Masks” graphic to show how masks are protective of others.

    • See, use, and share the “Best Practices for Masks and Face Coverings” which demonstrates proper usage of masks and face coverings.

    • Download these at our COVID-19 Resources page!

  • TAG has observed that many local health departments are beginning to take a more active role in monitoring the COVID-19 protection practices of businesses, particularly as reopenings are occurring. Maintain good relations with your Health Department.

  • Before you decide to on-site test employees for COVID-19, here are a few questions you should ask yourself.

  • Not all testing kits are created equally. Therefore, it is imperative that you understand how the tests work and how you will use the results for different types of tests.

  • The FDA just released notice about potential accuracy concerns around the Abbott ID NOW Point-of-Care tests; “specifically, the test may return false negative results”. A ‘false negative’ result would be when a person is infected with COVID-19 (and has COVID-19) is tested as being negative for COVID-19 (not having COVID-19). This is dangerous because it does not identify individuals who are sick. 

  • The FDA has announced that it “will continue to utilize and implement additional alternative inspection tools and approaches while postponing domestic and foreign routine surveillance inspections”. Mission critical inspections will be done on a case-by-case basis.

  • The FDA has released new information on the use of thermal imaging systems. This information includes how to properly use the systems, limitations, and its use as applicable to COVID-19.

  • Fogging is not a scientifically proven method for reducing COVID-19 risk and “cleaning” the workspace (or residential space). Please be cautious of companies that may peddle scientifically unproven methods of cleaning and disinfecting 

  • There is currently no evidence that air purifiers are protective against COVID-19.

  • There are no treatments to prevent and/or cure COVID-19. Please be wary of any products claiming such! The FDA has issued a temporary injunction on colloidal silver products claiming to treat COVID-19. The FDA has also issued warning letters to an herb distributor and another company selling honeys that claim to mitigate, prevent, and cure COVID-19.

  • With retailers reopening around the country, it is increasingly critical that companies focus on wellness checks for drivers, inspections of the truck’s cargo area, understanding what the trucks may have been repurposed for (including the storage and transport of human remains), and product testing (to prevent food fraud). Read more here about how to mitigate food fraud risks.

May 15, 2020

 

Today on Factual Fridays:

  • The FDA just released notice about potential accuracy concerns around the Abbott ID NOW Point-of-Care tests; “specifically, the test may return false negative results”. A “false negative” result would be when a person is infected with COVID-19 (has the virus) but tests as negative (as not having COVID-19). This is dangerous because it does not identify individuals who are ill and put other employees at risk. 

  • Fogging is not a scientifically proven method for reducing COVID-19 risk and “cleaning” the workspace (or residential space). Be cautious of companies that may have scientifically unproven methods of cleaning and disinfecting. Ask for scientific studies on their product/system.

  • There is currently no evidence that air purifiers are protective against COVID-19.

May 14, 2020

  • The FDA has released new information on the use of thermal imaging systems. This information includes how to properly use the systems, limitations, and its use as applicable to COVID-19.

  • While there is an increase in testing kits approved under FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization, not all tests are created equally. Therefore, it is imperative that you understand how the tests work and how you will use the results for different types of tests.

  • Our Frequently Asked Questions site is back online! Please take a look!

May 13, 2020

  • The FDA has released “Best Practices for Re-Opening Retail Food Establishments” guidance. TAG recommends ensuring that you meet all these requirements prior to re-opening. The FDA also has provided a reopening checklist [PDF] and infographic [PDF] for previously closed retail food establishments.

    • For the Checklist, click here.

    • For the Best Practices Infographic, click here.

  • Due to some concerning observations we have made, TAG would like to remind everyone that masks/face coverings must cover both nose and mouth. Coronavirus particles travel through respiratory droplets (saliva, mucus, snot, etc.).

    • See, use, and share the “Why Wear Masks” graphic to show how masks are protective of others.

    • See, use, and share the “Best Practices for Masks and Face Coverings” which demonstrates proper usage of masks and face coverings.

    • Download these at our COVID-19 Resources page!

  • Please remain in contact with and cooperate with your local health departments. Just as with health department food safety inspections, cooperate as necessary based on any questions regarding coronavirus. Read more below in our Recommendations for Industry.

  • To align with CDC’s most recent symptom guidance change (see picture), TAG is updating its Employee Wellness Check Questionnaire by moving “sore throat” and “muscle pain” to PRIMARY symptoms.

May 12, 2020

  • Recent released research highlights that there is little association of climate (e.g. warmer temperatures, humidity levels) on coronavirus spread. However, restricting mass gatherings, school closures, and increasing social distancing were strongly associated with reducing the growth of the epidemic. 

  • Watch the new CDC clip on “How COVID-19 Can Spread in a Community”. This video represents the April 8, 2020 CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report data (February – March 2020) and discusses community transmission that spread from two family gatherings in Chicago, Illinois. Large family gatherings (even now, with social distancing) can speed up community transmission.

May 11, 2020

Conducting Employee Wellness Screenings is important in quickly identifying potential cases. This should include a Wellness Questionnaire. However, it can also include a temperature  check and an oxygen-level check for objective metrics. Low oxygen levels without undue breathlessness continue to be a sign of underlying COVID-19 related pneumonia.

May 09, 2020

In case you missed it:

May 08, 2020

Today on Factual Fridays:

May 07, 2020

As we’ve discussed previously, using a face mask/face covering protects others from the wearer’s respiratory droplets. As many infected individuals have been found to be asymptomatic, the practice of wearing a face mask/covering is highly encouraged (and mandated by some retailers and other businesses, in some places). We have updated our downloadable COVID-19 Resources with a new infographic/poster, “Why Wear Masks” that can be used to demonstrate the risk-reducing measures of masks.  

May 06, 2020

Wellness Checks for both employees and visitors definitely help reduce risks and protect your employees. They should be an essential part of your COVID-19 Response program. Please see today’s Recommendations for Industry for further discussion on how this has helped businesses manage potential cases. 

May 05, 2020

  • The CDC has put out new guidance for isolation; extending 7 days of isolation to at least 10 days after illness onset. Read more in our Recommendations for Industry.

  • Stay tuned in for tomorrow’s “Wellness Wednesdays” as we look further at the positive impacts of Wellness Checks.

  • As a reminder, any human/clinical tests conducted should have appropriate FDA approvals. Tests should always be conducted in a laboratory fully authorized to do clinical diagnostic testing. The user of the test should understand the test’s sensitivities and specificities. Additionally, the tests should be administered by a trained individual.

  • There are currently no FDA-approved drugs to prevent or treat COVID-19. Please be incredibly wary of companies that are selling “cures.”

May 04, 2020

Today we discuss why social distancing (both at work and at home) is still important even as industries begin to open back up.

May 02, 2020

In FDA News:

In case you missed it:

This week, TAG also released two new free and downloadable resources that are available on our Resources website.

May 01, 2020

  • Today on Factual Friday: Are we comparing apples to oranges when comparing COVID-19 mortality rates to the seasonal flu?  A new article in Scientific American compares the current methods of counting coronavirus deaths to the methods of estimating seasonal influenza deaths and says, “If we compare, for instance, the number of people who died in the United States from COVID-19 in the second full week of April to the number of people who died from influenza during the worst week of the past seven flu seasons (as reported to the CDC), we find that the novel coronavirus killed between 9.5 and 44 times more people than seasonal flu. In other words, the coronavirus is not anything like the flu: It is much, much worse.”

 

  • There is emerging evidence that people may retest positive for COVID-19 after symptom resolution.  Depending on testing availability, TAG is recommending that employees who have either had: (a) had a confirmed positive COVID-19 test OR (b) ) have been medically diagnosed by a health professional with COVID-19 based on symptoms be tested for COVID-19 and receive a negative test.

    • This is consistent with current CDC recommendations for discontinuation from isolation using a test-based strategy.  Given the unknown risk of post-symptomatic transmission, this test-based approach may be more protective than relying on non-test-based strategies.

    • To ensure business continuity, employers should seek to facilitate testing arrangements for their employees for the return-to-work process.

TAG has two new downloadable resources available online (a pictogram of symptoms and a chart of symptoms). These posters can be posted at entrances and used as a guide for asking about symptoms as part of the Wellness Check. Find them on our COVID-19 Resources page.

 

April 30, 2020

  • In this week’s blog post, we start to discuss The Road to Recovery.

  • TAG also has two new downloadable resources available online (a pictogram of symptoms and a chart of symptoms). These posters can be posted at entrances and used as a guide for asking about symptoms as part of the Wellness Check. Find them on our COVID-19 Resources page.

April 29, 2020

  • TAG has received questions on close contact recommendations when an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19, but both the person diagnosed and the close contact(s) were wearing masks. TAG recommends that the same policy still be followed (close contact self-quarantining for 14 days) as infection could still have occurred. It is for this reason that the six-foot social distancing is critical even when masks are worn.

  • Your workforce and employees are the backbone of all businesses. It is imperative to instill measures to protect one’s workforce.

  • TAG reflects on the recent Executive Order to keep meat and poultry processing plants open.

  • Ensure your workforce has the ability to take care of their mental health (including associated anxiety) in this trying time. The CDC has provided Stress and Coping recommendations.

April 28, 2020

CDC_20200428_Symptom Update.png

April 27, 2020

April 25, 2020

In FDA News:

 

In case you missed it:

April 24, 2020

Today on Falsehood Fridays:

  • Contrary to some reports, there is no evidence that the arrival of summer (or warmer weather) will inactivate or slow the spread of the coronavirus.

  • Do not inject, inhale/sniff, ingest (consume/eat/drink) any disinfectants as a remedy for killing the virus! Disinfectants are chemicals that can cause irreparable damage and poisoning to the body (if consumed, injected, or inhaled).

  • Do not find and sit in front of a UV machine to kill the virus!

In food industry news:

  • The CDC released its report on "Strategies to reduce COVID-19 transmission at the Smithfield Foods Sioux Falls Pork Plant”. TAG will provide its insights on this on Monday, April 27, 2020.

  • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission posted an update on Thursday, April 23, 2020 allowing businesses to test employees for COVID-19 before entering a worksite. We discuss this today in the Recommendations for Industry. Stay tuned as TAG will continue to unpack this.

April 23, 2020

While we’ve discussed social distancing at length, below are some further points on social distancing:

  • Social distancing is not just limited to your workplace; it also pertains to what is happening before and after work, including how people arrive at work (via carpool, via public transit, etc.).

  • Consider staggering shifts, breaks, and usage of restrooms and changing rooms. Consider rearranging break rooms, cafeterias, and outside spaces to allow people to maintain appropriate social distance.

  • Utilize disposable paper towels (not hand dryers or cloth towels).  

  • For smoking and break areas, ensure individuals are not sharing drinks, cigarettes, or anything with respiratory droplets.

Evaluate your inventory of cleaning/disinfecting/sanitation supplies and equipment. Consider having at least a 14-day supply on hand (if applicable).

April 22, 2020

While we’ve discussed social distancing at length, below are some further points on social distancing:

  • Social distancing is not just limited to your workplace; it also pertains to what is happening before and after work, including how people arrive at work (via carpool, via public transit, etc.).

  • Consider staggering shifts, breaks, and usage of restrooms and changing rooms. Consider rearranging break rooms, cafeterias, and outside spaces to allow people to maintain appropriate social distance.

  • Utilize disposable paper towels (not hand dryers or cloth towels).  

  • For smoking and break areas, ensure individuals are not sharing drinks, cigarettes, or anything with respiratory droplets.

Evaluate your inventory of cleaning/disinfecting/sanitation supplies and equipment. Consider having at least a 14-day supply on hand (if applicable).

April 21, 2020

There is increasing evidence that hypoxemia (low oxygen levels) may be an early indicator of coronavirus (in lieu of other symptoms). Read more in today’s Recommendations for Industry.

 

In our Downloadable Resources (free), we have updated languages for some materials:

  • Social Distancing Posters: Russian

  • Best Practices for Mask Usage: French, Chinese, and Portuguese; Updated: Spanish version

  • Preventive Controls & Preventive measures: French, Chinese, Portuguese; Updated: Spanish

  • Preventive Control Hierarchy Pyramid: Updated Portuguese for clarity

April 20, 2020

In recent days, the CDC has updated their list of primary symptoms for COVID-19 to include: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.

As such, TAG is updating its General Screening Questionnaire by moving those symptoms up to primary symptoms (and adding X).

General Screening Questions:

  1. Employee’s first name:

  2. Is the employee experiencing or showing symptoms in the last 24 hours?

    • Primary symptoms:

      • Fever?

      • Cough?

      • Difficulty breathing?

      • Chills

      • Repeated shaking with chills

      • Muscle pain

      • Headache

      • Sore throat

      • Anosmia (loss of smell or taste)

    • Secondary symptoms:

      • Tiredness or fatigue

      • Sore throat

      • Gastrointestinal illness (diarrhea)

  3. Has the employee been exposed to a person (someone in their household, intimate partner, or close-contact) with symptomatic COVID-19 during period from 48 hours before symptoms onset until meeting the criteria for discontinuing home isolation?   This can be a laboratory-confirmed disease or a clinically compatible illness (fever, cough, or shortness of breath) in a state or territory with widespread community transmission). If so, please explain.

    • How and when did the exposure happen?

April 18, 2020

You can now find all our downloadable resources available online (for free) here. This includes posters and infographics for the following:

  • Social Distancing Posters (in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Chinese, and Vietnamese)

  • Best Practices for Mask Usage (in English, Spanish)

  • Preventive Controls & Preventive Measures (in English, Spanish)

  • Preventive Control Hierarchy Pyramid (in English, Spanish, and Portuguese)

Please let us know if you have any material requests or additional language. Additionally, we have differing formats for screen-viewing, print-viewing, gray-scale, and other formats (upon request).

Please find the resources to download, here!

If you have any trouble with any of the resources, please contact us to let us know!

April 17, 2020

Based on both scientific research and anecdotal evidence, there is increasing credible evidence for anosmia (loss of sense of smell) to be a symptom of COVID-19. Earlier this month, based on research from ENT UK and the American Society of Otolaryngology, we recommended that wellness screenings include anosmia as a secondary symptom. With further scientific evidence published this week, we have, once more, updated our recommendations to include questions focused on loss of smell as part of a Wellness Screening Question (for Employees and Visitors):

1.     If loss of smell is reported (not related to allergies, congestion, etc.), send the person home to self-quarantine.

2.     At this point, we do not recommend that close contacts be sought or sent home.

 

We will continue to follow the science and update our recommendations if and as applicable.

April 16, 2020

As we look at the current situation (and equilibrating for the “new normal”) and maybe even considering “returning to work” (depending on where you are in the country or world), it is imperative that we all remain Smart, Informed, and Flexible. We’ve said this many times before: “what happens one day will not be the same the next day”.

In the meantime (highlighting Back to Basics), please continue to think of ways to encourage social distancing. We continue to highlight “social distancing” since we’ve seen companies who have dutifully enacted employee wellness checks and frequent cleaning/disinfect still see high rates of workforce illness because social distancing is not properly practiced.

Please remind your workforce to be vigilant when creating physical distance and space, including being cognizant of:

  • One’s rideshare arrangements and living arrangements.

  • The number of individuals in changing rooms and restrooms! Limit the number of people (and distance between people) in changing rooms and restrooms!

Additionally, do not share:

  • Drinks, cigarettes, vaporizers, etc. (anything that may exchange spit, saliva, or respiratory droplets).

  • Masks or face coverings

April 15, 2020

As we reiterate the basics for mitigating business and workforce risks, today we are reminding everyone to practice social distancing. If you or your company need any social distancing posters, please let us know. We have this poster in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Chinese (simplified and traditional), and Vietnamese.

April 14, 2020

Resulting from many situations we have seen, we are doubling down and highlighting the basics. To ensure the continuity of your business and the wellness of your workforce -- at the ABSOLUTE minimum, please be aware of and enact the following preventative controls (please see the COVID-19 Preventative Control Hierarchy):

  • Employee Wellness Checks (see today’s Recommendations for the list of questions to ask).

  • Encourage social distancing, respiratory etiquette, and hygiene (frequent handwashing, avoid touching face, nose, eyes, and mouth)

  • Increase enhanced cleaning and disinfection

  • Encourage proper wearing of masks or face coverings to limit the spread of respiratory droplets.

April 13, 2020

As the pandemic continues, we understand that there are many dimensions and variables for food and agriculture to consider including: (a) how to maintain one’s workforce; and (b) “when will this end?”. While we do not have an answer for the latter (just yet), there are things to plan for now, for the former as it is important to consider the health and safety of your workforce and business. In this, TAG continues to stress the importance of:

  • Utilizing Employee Wellness Checks

  • Maintain current prevention practices including wellness checks, handwashing, PPE, etc.

  • Following up on “close contacts” of anyone diagnosed (or with symptoms) of COVID-19

  • Start planning and thinking ahead to the next six (6) months

April 11, 2020

  • Download the Final Guidance Document for the Temporary Policy Regarding Enforcement of 21 CFR Part 118 (the Egg Safety Rule) During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (weblink // PDF of Final Guidance).

April 10, 2020

  • The FDA has put out Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Read more here.

Summary of Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restauants,and Food Pick-Up/Deliery Service During the CVID-19 Pandemic

Click here for a copy of this infographic in PDF form from FDA

April 09, 2020

Last night (April 08, 2020), the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released updated interim guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 (weblink // PDF link).

Key scientific facts that we’ve discussed before have not changed.

There is both asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of the coronavirus and while it’s still unclear as to amount or duration, the current science indicates infectivity begins at least 48 hours before symptom onset. The 14-day exclusion was implemented to protect us all while reducing the spread from asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.

This announcement from the CDC opens the door to allow those in critical infrastructure (including food and agriculture) industries to make risk-based decisions about a 14-day exclusion for close contacts.

The definition of “close contacts” has not changed and includes: (a) being in close proximity of a household contact, or (b) having close contact with (being within six feet for more than 10-15 minutes) an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. We discuss this further in our Recommendations for the Industry.

April 08, 2020

Today, we wish to re-highlight a few things: 

  • Ensure social distancing is maintained in and out of the workplace. Not only is social distancing physical distance apart, but it also includes not sharing food or drinks, cigarettes, or any other sharing activities that could increase risk through shared respiratory or salivary droplets.

  • Employ daily Employee Wellness Checks to check-in on employee health and well-being before each work shift. Consider more frequent Wellness Checks throughout shift.  Based on changing science, TAG will be updating this soon.

  • In the interests of both food safety and COVID-19, it is essential to:

    • Increase the frequency of proper handwashing. Hands should also be washed before putting on and after taking off masks.

    • Increase the frequency of cleaning and sanitation.

    • Encourage social distancing whenever possible.

  • Surgical masks should be saved for healthcare professionals.

April 07, 2020

  • As more information is released, there is increasing evidence that the loss of smell/taste is an indicator of COVID-19. We will explore this in future posts.

  • As a reminder: surgical-style masks and respirator masks should be reserved for healthcare professionals.

  • If you mandate mask wearing for businesses, you will need to ensure that you are aligned with OSHA classifications. Consider mask-wearing from an “administrative control” perspective as opposed to “personal protective equipment (PPE).”

  • Wearing a mask is to protect others (not necessarily yourself) by limiting droplet spread. Cloth masks and homemade masks prevent droplet spreads from yourself to others, which protects others from your respiratory droplets.

  • Wearing a mask should not replace social distancing. Cloth masks such as those now recommended by CDC are not respirators and don’t protect against aerosols. 

  • To make your own mask, follow the CDC’s guidelines here.

  • Today we talk about correct mask donning, doffing, disinfecting, and disposal.

April 06, 2020

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is providing a temporary policy regarding nutrition labeling of standard menu items in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments. For the summary, see here.

  • The FDA has also provided a temporary policy for nutrition labeling of packaged foods. See the summary here.

  • The FDA has also provided an At a Glance for how to safely distribute unused human food for use as animal food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Last week, the FDA also approved its first COVID-19 test that identifies SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the blood.

  • Today, we elaborate further on the “six-foot rule”.

April 04, 2020

Today in U.S. FDA news:

  • To accommodate for the growing demand for eggs during the pandemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just released new guidance that temporarily provides packaging and labeling flexibility for shell eggs sold to consumers at retail. Read more here.

  • The FDA is also extending its comment period for the Laboratory Accreditation Program proposed rule. Find out more here.

  • Importer inspections under the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs will now be conducted remotely.

  • As we’d previously discussed, the FDA is scaling back on domestic inspections.

April 03, 2020

Currently, “close contact” is referred to as someone who has been within 6 feet (2 meters) for a prolonged period of time. Time recommendations for “prolonged period of time” vary between 10 minutes – 30 minutes (to “or more”). This makes the time limit of “close contact” a little subjective. How do you calculate this for yourself and your operation?

TAG has operated with 15 minutes. We do not recommend any time limit greater than 15 minutes. 15 minutes has been echoed by other organizations, including the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and reflects existing research about risk levels.

To determine a “close contact” time, it is important for everyone to observe and be aware of the time/space of those with whom they work closely (6 feet or 2 meters), take breaks, and/or sit. It is best to be aware of the time that is being spent in close contact with others, limiting that time and maintaining social distance whenever possible. Also, it is important to wash hands properly and frequently and avoid touching the face. 

April 02, 2020

  • 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.

April 01, 2020

  • The CDC has updated their public health recommendations. The CDC’s recommendations now align with TAG’s recommendations that identifying a period of exposure risk should be from “48 hours before symptom onset and until the sick contact meets criteria for discontinuing home isolation”. More on that tomorrow.

  • The discussions and recommendations on masks (and mask usage) are rapidly evolving.

  • In manufacturing and production settings (when social distancing cannot always be adequately maintained), masks can become the last step in a risk management strategy to minimize the spread of viral respiratory droplets. However, masks should not be used as the end all/be all. Social distancing, handwashing, and refraining from touching face, eyes, and other membranes should take priority. Read more in Recommendations for Industry, below.

 

March 31, 2020

There have been different types of information spread around that may be more anecdotal than validated; additionally, some information may be inconclusive. Today, we will briefly discuss (and debunk?) some of the more sensationalized news: 

  • While viral particles have been reported to be found on cruise ships (days after docking), and in the blood, feces, and urine of recovered patients, this does not mean that the viral particles are live, infective, or transmissible. Further research is needed.

  • There is some anecdotal information that losing one’s sense of smell/taste can be indicative of having coronavirus; however, this can occur with other illnesses, too and requires further study.  

  • There are currently no validated medications for treating the coronavirus. Please do not consume hydroxychloroquine (or any related drugs) to treat coronavirus without medical supervision. There are no validated studies to prove its efficacy.  

  • Despite what online videos may tell you, do not pre-soak and wash your vegetables, fruits, meats/seafood with soap/detergent and water. Not only are they not labeled for use on foods, but there are also toxicity issues with consuming household dish soaps and detergents that can be absorbed into or on the produce. There is also no scientific evidence that washing produce with a dilute bleach solution, lemon juice, vinegar, etc. will work; in fact, ingesting bleach (and other compounds) can be incredibly dangerous!

  • It is safe to use ibuprofen and acetaminophen to reduce fever, aches, and pains associated with a coronavirus infection. Media declaring that ibuprofen contributed to severe illness were anecdotal and based on observations, as opposed to being based on scientific studies. 

March 30, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, it is important to remind everyone: what you did last week won’t be the same thing that you will be doing this week.

Looking ahead at a prolonged outbreak, have you considered your business’ policies around:

  • Identifying potential cases and increasing employee wellness checks?

  • Absenteeism and plans for business disruptions?

  • Tracking close contacts?

  • Mental health resources for your company?

  • The complexities around exclusion policies and “return to work”.

As an increasing number of cases are being diagnosed, the following information should be obtained from a symptomatic employee or a confirmed case:

  • What is the employee’s work location?

  • What is the employee’s work hours?

  • What is the employee’s general and specific work duties?

  • Does the employee work in one location or do they travel throughout the building or to multiple sites?

  • Did the employee start to feel sick while they were at work?

    • If so, what date and what time?

  • What was the last day the employee was at work?

  • Who did the employee have close contact with (physical contact or within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) 48 hours before the employee became ill or during their last day at work?

    • Collect this information as it will determine other employees that may need to self-quarantine if the employee were to test positive in the future. 

 

Today, we discuss “When does the clock start for a COVID-19 diagnosed employee, or close contact, to return to work?” in our Recommendations for Industry. Short answer: It can be complicated; please read below for more.

March 28, 2020

In this time of COVID-19, misinformation and fearmongering have become commonplace – especially about coronavirus and food safety. Many of you may have seen videos that have featured “experts” giving purported COVID-19 advice including unproven ways of “keeping one’s food safe”.

 

Dr. Don Schaffner explains COVID-19 misconceptions, food safety misconceptions, and discusses misinformation, including why it’s not good idea to take microbiology advice from a person who is not a microbiologist (Link on Twitter). 

March 27, 2020

Today, we would like to remind everyone of a few points: 

  • The virus is not transmitted through food or food packaging.

  • The food and agriculture sectors are considered Critical Infrastructure.

  • Have you reviewed your illness and exclusion policies, recently? If not, right now is the time!

  • While the virus is not transmitted through food, food safety (preparation, storing, consuming) is still important and must be practiced

  • Properly washing hands with soap is effective against viral particles. Don’t forget to wash for 20 seconds, use soap, scrub between the finger webbings! Read more here (link) on how soap is effective against SARS-CoV-2.

  • Actively screen employees and enact social distancing practices in your business, amongst employees, and with customers. TAG’s social distancing poster is now available in English, Spanish, French, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional).

  • Masks are not necessarily protective; in fact, they can potentially increase risk. Read more in our Recommendations for Industry.

March 26, 2020

  • While much of the focus is on coronavirus, food safety is still important and imperative. The FDA may not be conducting as frequent routine inspections, but the production and delivery of safe food is still expected.

  • Chloroquine is not a proven antiviral against coronavirus. There is not yet sufficient clinical evidence of its efficacy. Please do not attempt to self-medicate. (There have been cases in which deaths have occurred). 

  • Actively screen employees and enact social distancing practices in your business, amongst employees, and with customers. The poster is now available in English, Spanish, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional).

  • More information in "Recommendations for Industry" on "Social Distancing in Food Manufacturing Plants" (below).

  • When discussing masks: Except that of healthcare workers for whom N95 respirators are recommended, face masks will likely be of little benefit in the work environment; masks can potentially increase risk

 

What is “flattening the curve”? – “Flattening the curve” is the concept of slowing down an outbreak so that fewer people need to seek treatment at any given time so as not to overload the system. The “curve” represents the number of people who can contract coronavirus based on the infection rate. When there is a high/steep curve, a lot of people are infected and sicken (overloading the healthcare system in hospitals leading to running out of decreased supplies). By flattening the curve, while the same number of people may be sickened, but it is spread over a longer period of time, thus creating less stress on the healthcare system. Read more at the CDC or Live Science.

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 (info@achesongroup.com) for a copy (English, Spanish, French, Chinese - traditional and simplified) 

March 25, 2020

  • Stay Alert! Actively screen employees and enact social distancing practices in your business, amongst employees, and with customers. (see below for Social Distancing Poster in both English and Spanish). 

  • Today, we further discuss “Preventing COVID-19 Cleaning Fraud”. Please read below.

  • Due to increasing scientific evidence regarding “close contact” and employee screenings, TAG recommends changing the “close contact” identification timeframe for employee screenings from 24 hours to 48 hours (2 days) before symptom onset. While this value is a more conservative approach than is currently recommended by the US CDC, TAG believes the 48-hour recommendation is more protective of a facility’s workforce if operationally sustainable.

    • Specifically: Determine an employee’s (who has shown/felt symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough, difficulty breathing) work schedule for at least 48 hours prior to illness onset and up to 14 days. This information can be used to determine who else was working at the same time as the employee if this information is needed to identify close contacts.

    • “Close contact” means a person worked within 6 feet of that person for more than 15 minutes at a time.  e.g., Passing by each other throughout the day would not constitute close contact. Working next to someone else for an extended period of time would.

  • To increase access to reliable information, WHO has partnered with WhatsApp and Facebook to launch a WHO Health Alert messaging service that will provide the latest news and information on COVID-19, including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves (many available languages). To access and subscribe, please send the word "hi" to the following number on WhatsApp: +41 798 931 892. In WhatsApp, messaging will be free. (Currently >10M subscribers)

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 (info@achesongroup.com) for a copy (English, Spanish) 

March 24, 2020

As we continue discussing planning and implications for a prolonged outbreak and what you and your business can do to ensure your employees and customers are kept safe and healthy, today we will touch on: (a) third-party cleaners; (b) employee wellness checks; (c) thermometer usage. 

  • Please be cautious of using third-party cleaners promoting unrecognized and unvalidated processes (e.g. fogging – this has not been validated or verified).

    • Ask for valid documentation for how systems work against coronavirus.

    • Ensure they are using chemical agents and methods that have been shown to be effective against coronavirus.

  • To ensure employee health, we will quickly revisit Employee Wellness Checks (which can be found in our FAQs). Wellness checks (interviews) should be conducted each day prior to start of shift (and work). Since COVID-19 symptoms can appear at any time, employee wellness checks can be conducted multiple times a day, if desired.

    • Employee Wellness Checks can be done in conjunction with temperature checks (which is today’s Recommendations for Industry article).

General Screening Questions

  1. Is the employee experiencing or showing symptoms in the last 24 hours? (specifically: a) fever; b) cough; c) difficulty breathing)?

  2. Has the employee traveled within the last 14 days to a high-risk area [widespread community transmission] or have they been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19? If so, please explain.

    • When did travel or exposure happen?

    • If employee has traveled to a high-risk area or had COVID-19 exposure, they should be excluded from work.  (TAG’s Toolkit for Clients includes further information, including determination regarding high-risk areas of travel).

 

If an employee has any of the symptoms listed above:

  1. Have they consulted with a medical professional (e.g. doctor)?

  2. Have they been tested for COVID-19?

  3. Do they have their results yet? Positive or negative?

  4. Determine the employee’s work schedule for at least 24 hours prior to illness onset and up to 14 days. This information can determine who else was working at the same time as the employee if this information is needed to identify close contacts.

  5. Please identify which employees or customers had “close contact” with this employee while working.

  6. Have any other employees experienced fever or cough in the last 14 days?

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 (info@achesongroup.com) if you are wanting a copy of this poster.

March 23, 2020

This week, we will be discussing planning and implications for a prolonged outbreak and what you and your business can do to ensure your employees and customers are kept safe and healthy. 

As businesses are looking to do short-term hires to quickly meet growing demands at retail markets, restaurants, and food production, the US EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has provided guidance on hiring and COVID-19. To read more, click here

  • “An employer may screen job applications for symptoms of COVID-19 after making a conditional job offer”. If an employer decides to screen for COVID-19, they must do so for all employees of the same job.

  • An employer may also take an applicant’s temperature upon conditional offer of employment. However, some individuals with COVID-19 may not have a fever. Additionally, this information becomes medical information (if recorded) and must be treated as such and remain confidential.

  • If an applicant has COVID-19 (or symptoms), employment should be delayed as “an individual who has COVID-19 or symptoms associated with it should not be in the workplace”.

  • If an applicant is scheduled to begin immediately but has COVID-19, the job offer may be rescinded if needed since “the individual cannot safely enter the workplace”.

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 (info@achesongroup.com) if you are wanting a copy of this poster.

March 21, 2020

  • Everyone should practice social distancing, not only those who are ill or at higher-risk (e.g. older individuals, pre-existing conditions). Please see below for a poster that you can use at your establishment (free for use). Please email us (info@achesongroup.com) if you are wanting a copy of this poster.

  • While <1% of COVID-19 deaths are < 54 years old, new CDC data shows that 40% of hospitalized U.S. patients are between 20 – 54 years old. This is aligned with similar reports from France and Italy. These numbers demonstrate the virus’ community outreach; it is important for everyone to be attentive and practice social distancing. While you may not show symptoms, you can still be a carrier and may inadvertently affect others.

  • The first developed vaccines against COVID-19 have begun testing.

  • To increase access to reliable information, WHO has partnered with WhatsApp and Facebook to launch a WHO Health Alert messaging service that will provide the latest news and information on COVID-19, including details on symptoms and how people can protect themselves. Currently, the Health Alert service is in English; more languages will be added next week. To access and subscribe, please send the word "hi" to the following number on WhatsApp: +41 798 931 892. In WhatsApp, messaging will be free.

Please feel free to use this image for posters or signs to be posted in your business

(print in landscape mode).

If needed, please email us for the original.

March 20, 2020

  • Food is safe; there is no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 transmission through food.

  • Please practice social distancing; this means maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meter) between yourself and others.

  • TAG has provided some “Considerations for Taking Temperatures” in the FAQs (link). While this may be a good addition to your employee screening, please practice caution when utilizing this method of illness identification as: (a) ill individual may not present with fever; (b) proper usage of thermometers must be practiced.

  • Next week we will discuss planning and implications for a prolonged outbreak (e.g. supply-chain disruptions).

Please feel free to use this image for posters or signs to be posted in your business

(print in landscape mode) 

March 19, 2020

Yesterday, the FDA gave its “Briefing for Foods Stakeholders on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)”. Below are the four main points:​

  • There is no evidence of foodborne transmission of COVID-19

  • There are no shortages of food in the food supply

  • If you are in the food and agriculture sectors, you are considered critical infrastructure

  • In addition to “postponing most foreign facility inspections through April”, the FDA has also “temporarily postponed all domestic routine surveillance facility inspections”. Those that are “for cause” and/or “mission-critical” will proceed. Additionally, the majority of FDA inspections will be announced.​

  • We will discuss the current state of actions that various states across the nation are currently undertaking.

FDA Briefing for Foods Stakeholders on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

March 18, 2020 

For recording & more information, click here.

Listen to the recording below: 

2020 COVID Food Industry CallU.S. Food and Drug Administration
00:00 / 28:51

March 18, 2020

  • The principle mode of coronavirus transmission is person-to-person. While the risk of coronavirus transmission on fomites (objects that can be easily contaminated including dishes, doorknobs, surfaces, utensils, etc.) is low, it is imperative that frequent clean/sanitize policies are in place.​

  • As coronavirus cases increase, third party cleaning companies may be faced with difficulties in cleaning a variety of businesses and may even refuse to undertake the work if there is a positive case. Thus, to remain operational, it is imperative that your business has a cleaning/sanitizing protocol (conducted in-house by in-house employees) ready to go if you need it. You know your business best and will be best able to accommodate for any irregularities that may be missed by third-party companies. Contact TAG for support on how to build an internal cleaning and sanitation plan.

  • For information on disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2, please refer to the EPA's list (link).  ​

FDA Briefing for Foods Stakeholders on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

March 18, 2020 (today) at 3:45PM - 4:15PM ET 

For more information, click here.

FDA's Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website (link)

March 17, 2020

  • For organizations or gatherings that serve higher-risk communities (e.g. older individuals, health-considerations, etc.), the CDC recommends canceling or postponing gatherings with more than ten (10) people.​

  • Restaurants and bars have begun closing doors to dine-in customers. What should your business do to consider and explore operation continuity through take-out, delivery, or pick-up? See below for today’s “Recommendations for Industry.”​

  • Are you a food manufacturer, food distributor, grocery or convenience stores that is wondering if your business is part of critical infrastructure? Reach out to your departments of emergency management or other relevant agencies for further information:

March 16, 2020

  • The CDC “recommends that for the next 8 weeks”, all in-person events or gatherings of 50 or more people should be canceled or postponed. “Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States” due to travelers possibly carrying and introducing the virus and furthering community transmission.

  • Viruses and their respective diseases often have different names. The World Health Organization has provided proper nomenclature. The virus that is responsible for the current outbreak is SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). The name of the disease that it causes is COVID-19 (coronavirus disease).

  • As the outbreak continues, have you and your business considered the following and do you have a policy in place for:

    • Employee Screening?

    • Employee Illness Management?

    • Actions to Take if Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19?

    • Visitors and Visitor Screening?

    • Facility Cleaning and Sanitation?

    • Social Distancing?

    • Alternative Work Arrangements and Teleworking?

    • Employee Absenteeism?

    • Employee and Customer Communications?

March 14, 2020

  • Recent research indicates that COVID-19 unlikely to remain infections on surfaces and in the environment for many days or weeks at a time. (TAG will discuss this further in the following week). 

  • With the increasing spread of coronavirus, many countries have enlisted travel restrictions and/or closed their borders to/from other countries. Please see the CDC’s Travel Recommendations for U.S. travel guidance. An increasing number of countries have also declared “state of emergency”.

  • The number of reported new coronavirus cases in China and South Korea continue to decline.

  • While COVID-19 is not spread through food, it is spread through people. Practice social distancing: avoid large groups or gatherings and maintain a 6 feet (2 meter) distance from people.

  • As the number of COVID-19 cases rise, employers should consider “sick-leave” policies to protect employee and businesses.

March 13, 2020

Below are some considerations for individuals who may fall into the high-risk category: 

  • Older Adults/People with pre-existing conditions. Although COVID-19 infects people of all ages, current evidence suggests that older individuals (>60 years old) and those with underlying medical and/or long-term health conditions (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease) may be most detrimentally affected. Individuals over 80 years old seem to be at highest risk. Most COVID-19 fatalities have occurred among older adults

  • Healthy children and young adults. While experts are still learning about COVID-19, children have not been found to be as susceptible to COVID-19. To date, most confirmed cases in China have occurred in adults, with infection among children relatively uncommon. Affected children tend to have a milder illness than adults and older individuals. Of 70,000 cases studied, ~2% presented in individuals under 19.

March 12, 2020

  • Due to increasing concerns about the “alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction”, WHO has now classified the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic.

  • While its designation may have changed, COVID-19 and how an individual and business manages their health, safety, and risk is not any more or less different than prior to this.

  • The United States government has their own website for COVID-19 (link).

  • Schools and universities around the U.S. and throughout the world are closing (and urging online classes, when possible) due to COVID-19.

  • Wash hands and practice social distancing. Increasingly, large gatherings and events are being temporarily suspended or canceled.

People of all ages can be infected with COVID-19. People of all ages should take steps to help protect themselves and others. Please take steps to protect yourself through good hand hygiene, good respiratory hygiene, and social distancing. (WHO)

March 11, 2020

  • Social distancing is “the most effective tool” for stopping or slowing the spread of an outbreak. Because COVID-19 can be spread “simply through breathing”, especially within close proximities, social distancing is highly encouraged and advised.

  • See “Recommendations for Industry” (below) for more information on “social distancing” and “close contact”.

Avoid shaking hands, respiratory droplets may spread from hands to eyes, nose, and mouth! (WHO)

March 10, 2020

  • There is no evidence that food is a source or route of transmission for the virus.

  • As the outbreak continues to expand and the risk of  community transmission increases, businesses should consider protecting workforce health. See what you can do to support your workforce at TAG COVID-19 FAQs: Protecting Employee Health.

  • The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says that although animals may have been the “likely source of infection”, the main source of infection and spread is from person-to-person (via respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or exhaling).

  • Recent reports highlight COVID-19’s ability to spread before causing symptoms. In fact, upon infecting an individual, COVID-19 quickly reproduces; it grows especially well in the upper respiratory tract (nose, mouth, nasal cavity, and throat)!

    • Wash hands well and do not touch eyes, mouth, or other mucosal membranes!

    • Additionally, a coughing or sneezing individual should use elbow or tissue to block droplets. Tissue should be discarded immediately!

  • Although COVID-19 viral particles can be found in urine and stool specimens, virus transmission from these sources is still being researched and is not fully understood.

Can COVID-19 spread through feces? (WHO)

March 09, 2020

The WHO discusses some similarities and differences between COVID-19 and influenza (“the flu”) infectivity and symptoms.

  • As both COVID-19 and influenza are transmitted by contact, droplets (respiratory), and fomites (objects), practice good hand hygiene and good respiratory etiquette.

  • The current calculated reproductive number – the number of infections resulting from one infected individual – is around 2 – 2.5. This means that for every person infected, they can infect up to two (2) others. However, this number will evolve as we learn more.

 

Due to the increased numbers of community transmission, employers should encourage employees to participate in “Employee Wellness Checks”. For an example, please see TAG's COVID-19: Guidances for Employees and Businesses.

  • Encourage employees to stay home if they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 including fever, cough, shortness of breath or gastrointestinal illness.

  • Consider how work-from-home policies can be supported or expanded.  Social distancing is effective in limiting or slowing transmission of the virus.

Stop The Spread of Germs (CDC)

March 07, 2020

The WHO discusses some similarities and differences between COVID-19 and influenza (“the flu”) patients.

  • Initial data suggests that children are less affected by COVID-19 than adults; in fact, children may be infected more frequently from adults. This is opposite of influenza in which children contribute greatly to the flu’s community transmission.

  • Current data on COVID-19 suggest that “80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic”; 20% are sever or critical infections (requiring oxygen and ventilation).

  • Individuals of older age or underlying health conditions have an increased risk for severe COVID-19 infection. When thinking about work and travel recommendations, it is important for employers to consider their employees and their families.

March 06, 2020

We want to continue highlighting the importance of protecting employee health.

  • COVID-19 is easily spread through respiratory droplets. Proper washing of one’s hands is the most important preventive control. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth.

  • As the outbreak continues to expand, it is imperative that employers continue to check in with employees on their health.

  • If you are feeling ill, please stay at home! 

March 05, 2020

The next few days, the focus will be on managing and protecting employee health.

  • COVID-19 is easily spread through respiratory droplets. Not only is handwashing important, so is creating and maintaining social distancing (avoiding unnecessary contact or close proximity to others).

  • Proper washing of one’s hands is the most important preventive control. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth.

  • Travel to places of wide-spread community transmission (or “high risk” areas) should be minimized and/or avoided. Regions that have declared a states of emergency would be considered high-risk areas.

March 04, 2020

  • An increasing number of food companies (including Nestle, Unilever, Cargill, Starbucks, etc.) have placed a hold on international travel. Additionally, many are also encouraging employees to limit domestic travel.

  • Looking ahead at protecting employees, TAG highly encourages corporate entities begin considering their own travel recommendations or plans.

  • The use of technologies that can allow for distance meetings (via online) or other forms of communications are highly encouraged.

  • Properly washing one’s hands is imperative to preventative control.

  • The Director-General of the World Health Organization briefed that while COVID-19 is deadlier than the seasonal flu, it is not as easily transmitted.

March 03, 2020

  • As discussed previously, the number of non-essential travel bans enacted by national and international companies are increasing. This recommendation will likely continue, and we will likely see more non-essential travel bans in the coming week(s). We recommend corporate entities begin to consider how such implementations may disrupt your service.

  • We highly encourage utilizing technologies that can allow for distance meetings (via online) or other forms of communications.

  • Internationally recognized health organizations do not recommend the usage of masks for healthy individuals.

  • Proper washing of one’s hands is THE most important preventative control measure!

March 02, 2020

  • On Saturday, Washington state declared a state of emergency, a proactive measure to ensure health and safety by “direct[ing] state agencies to use all resources necessary to prepare for and response to the outbreak”. As the outbreak spreads, we will likely see more states and regions declare “state of emergency”.

  • An increasing number of North American companies are enacting bans on non-essential travel. This recommendation will likely continue, and we will likely see more non-essential travel bans in the coming week(s).

  • The number of U.S. cases will likely increase in certain hot spots.

  • It currently appears that COVID-19 is both more contagious and more deadly than the “flu” (influenza).  

  • Companies should consider an employee illness reporting plan for potential illnesses.

  • While survivability of COVID-19 (specifically) has not been fully studied, studies of other human coronaviruses have found that coronaviruses can survive up to 9 days on surfaces at room temperature.

  • Currently, there is no published information on coronaviruses' survivability in food. While heat can be used to inactivate coronavirus, freezing is unlikely to inactivate the virus!

March 01, 2020

As community transmission appears to be occurring in the United States, companies should consider and review their (a) employee illness and monitoring policies and (b) Business Continuity Plans. 

An important part of employee screening will include asking about any potential contact with known COVID-19 cases.  If an employee reports having been in contact with a diagnosed case, please tell them to stay at home and not to report to work. Additionally, the employer should contact the local or health state department immediately.   

 

February 29, 2020

There is emerging evidence of community transmission of the virus on the West Coast of the United States with a small number of cases in California, Oregon, and Washington State.  Community transmission are when cases of illness not explained by overseas travel or contact with a person known to be infected.  If you have facilities located in areas with potential community transmission, monitor information from the local and state health authorities for information regarding the outbreak and possible impacts to communities in your area.

Considering the increasing evidence of community transmission, it is important for food establishments to have a plan in place regarding their workforce and incoming goods.

February 28, 2020

  • Currently, there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted by food. However, there is evidence that COVID-19 can likely survive on surfaces for 1-2 days, and maybe up to 9 days.

  • Check out this brief video about COVID-19 from The World Health Organization (WHO) https://openwho.org/courses/introduction-to-ncov

 

or call us at 1-800-401-2239.

Keep up to date with COVID-19:

Please send us any questions, comments, and/or concerns! We are happy to talk with you. 

 
Get the Insights & Guidance You Need! 

Learn how TAG can help your company ensure food safety and brand protection.

Contact us today!


 

CONTACT US

info@achesongroup.com

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