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FDA and OSHA publish checklist to assist food industry during COVID-19

Posted: 20 August 2020 | | No comments yet

The checklist aims to serve as a quick reference to help the food industry assess and react to situations brought on by COVID-19.

FDA and OSHA publish checklist to assist food industry during COVID-19

In a bid to assist the food industry as it navigates changes to operations related to COVID-19, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has teamed up with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop the “Employee Health and Food Safety Checklist for Human and Animal Food Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The checklist is based on existing guidance provided by the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and OSHA and aims to serve as a quick reference to help the food industry assess employee health, social distancing, and food safety within workplaces as operations may be impacted by COVID-19. 

The checklist is broken into two sections. The first focuses on employee health, screening, and operation configuration for social distancing to prevent or minimise the spread of COVID-19 based on guidelines provided by CDC and OSHA.

The second section highlights food safety requirements, found in existing regulations, that can help the food industry assess the potential impact of COVID-19-related operational changes on food safety practices. Some operational changes that could impact food safety include closures, changes among food safety staff, or changes to suppliers or ingredients, FDA noted.

The checklist was designed to help establishments that are:

  • Growing
  • Harvesting
  • Packing
  • Manufacturing
  • Processing
  • Holding human and animal food regulated by FDA.

These include produce, seafood, milk, eggs, grains, game meat, and other raw materials or ingredients, as well as their resulting human or animal food products. The checklist also aims to provide useful information for foreign facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food intended for consumption in the United States.

FDA explained that the checklist is not an exhaustive list of all measures human and animal food operations may take to protect employee health and food safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it can serve as a quick reference to identify areas where additional attention could be warranted. Operations have been advised to continue to refer to guidelines offered by their state and local Government, as well as additional information provided by the FDA, CDC and OSHA. 

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