COVID-19 External Resources

Last updated – May 22nd

Following are resources provided by external experts.

  • FDA Announces Temporary Flexibility Policy Regarding Certain Labeling Requirements  – Today (May 22nd) the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the availability of a new guidance entitled, Temporary Policy Regarding Certain Food Labeling Requirements During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Minor Formulation Changes and Vending Machines.  It provides the temporary flexibility for the following situations.
    • Under certain conditions it provides flexibility for manufacturers to make minor formulation changes without making conforming label changes (ex. making a change to product ingredients, without updating the ingredient list on the packaged food when such a minor change is made).  Minor formulation changes should be consistent, as appropriate, with the following general factors:
      • Safety: the ingredient being substituted for the labeled ingredient does not cause any adverse health effect (including food allergens, gluten, sulfites, or other foods known to cause sensitivities in some people, for example, glutamates);
      • Quantity: generally present at 2 percent or less by weight of the finished food;
      • Prominence: the ingredient being omitted or substituted for the labeled ingredient is not a major ingredient in the product;
      • Characterizing Ingredient: the ingredient being omitted or substituted for the labeled ingredient is not a characterizing ingredient; for example, omitting raisins, a characterizing ingredient in raisin bread;
      • Claims: an omission or substitution of the ingredient does not affect any voluntary nutrient content or health claims on the label;  and
      • Nutrition/Function: an omission or substitution of the labeled ingredient does not have a significant impact on the finished product, including nutritional differences or functionality.
    • Substitution of unbleached flour for bleached flour without a corresponding label change while there continue to be bleached flour shortage.
    • FDA will not object if covered operators of the vending machine industry do not meet vending machine labeling requirements to provide calorie information for foods sold in the vending machines at this time.
  • CDC AND OSHA ISSUE JOINT COVID-19 INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR MANUFACTURING WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued interim guidance for manufacturing workers and employers that includes, in part, recommendations to create a COVID-19 assessment and control plan and the use of a hierarchy of controls approach to prevent worker infection. In most cases, COVID-19 assessment and control plans should include precautionary measures or processes to reduce or eliminate the hazard; installation of engineering controls; and implementation of appropriate cleaning, sanitation and disinfection practices to reduce exposure or shield workers. Click here for more information.
  • COVID-19 PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE FOR FOOD FACILITIES TEMPLATE PLAN. The Food Protection and Defense Institute (FDPI) developed a template plan for COVID-19 preparedness and response for food facilities. The template was informed by CDC guidance, written in a manner to be broadly applicable, provides insight and ideas for potential best practices, and is customizable to state, local and company regulations and policies. Please contact Weiyi Zhao for this document.
  • USDA EXTENDS TIMEFRAME FOR TEMPORARY USE OF ENFORCEMENT DISCRETION FOR THE LABELING OF FOOD REDIRECTED TO RETAIL. In its May 1 constituent update, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced it is extending its temporary use of enforcement discretion an additional 60 days, until July 26, for certain labeling and that it will not require establishments to submit such labels for temporary approval. The agency is following up on its March 27 constituent update as FSIS recognizes the ongoing challenges industry and retailers are facing with the labeling and redirection of products for distribution for retail sale. Click here for additional information on the temporary allowances for labeling at federal establishments, labeling at retail for bulk product already in commerce and labeling at retail for product in unlabeled protective coverings already in commerce.
  • USDA ADJUSTS IMPORT AND EXPORT FACILITY INSPECTIONS. On May 1, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection’s (APHIS) Field Operations temporarily modified the agency’s inspection process for live animal export facility renewals and animal product facilities. For details, go here.
  • On April 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided a COVID-19 Daily Roundup regarding the agency’s actions in its ongoing response effort to the pandemic. For a full list of FDA’s COVID-19 Daily Roundup announcements and for more information, click here.
  • What to Do If You Have COVID-19 Confirmed Positive or Exposed Workers in your Food Production, Storage, or Distribution Operations Regulated by FDA: CDC-derived recommendations and key steps that employers and workers can take to help stay open, prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19, and support continuity of essential operations.
  • WHO – COVID-19 and food safety: guidance for food businesses Download
  • European Comission (EC) COVID-19 and food safety Questions and Answers Download