AFFI has developed this page to provide the best available guidance and share resources compiled from public health agencies and other food trade associations to manage the spread and impact of the coronavirus disease (abbreviated COVID-19).
Frequently Asked Questions
Reports of individuals contracting COVID-19 via consuming frozen foods, or via handling frozen food packaging have not been scientifically validated.
More than a dozen public health authorities from around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), along with leading food safety experts, all agree that there is no evidence of the spread of COVID-19 through consumption of food or food packaging, and no known cases of foodborne COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a respiratory ailment, not a foodborne one. Learn more here.
While there are a number of preventative steps and actions that you should take, AFFI recommends that all companies do the following:
- Use the resources and recommendations on this page to create a plan that prioritizes worker safety.
- Provide all workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks, shields and gloves and require their use.
- Proactively contact your local health department and build a relationship with them now.
- Send the employee home immediately.
- Encourage employee to contact their local health department and healthcare provider.
- Identify potentially exposed individuals and clean and disinfect appropriate areas. Unless advised by local authorities, other individuals in the facility should not be considered high risk for infection and may continue working.
- Employee may be able to return to work when they have not had a fever for at least 72 hours since recovery and when other symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath have improved.
- Because transmission occurs from person to person, a facility does not need to shut down as a result of an employee, visitor, or other individual testing positive for COVID-19 if this protocol is addressed.
At this time, FDA does not intend to object to the sale of packaged food (both perishable and non-perishable food) that lacks a Nutrition Facts label and or retail packaging, provided that the food does not have any nutrition claims and contains the following required information on the label, including:
- A statement of identity
- An ingredient statement
- The name and place of business of the food manufacturer, packer, or distributor
- Net quantity of contents
- Allergen information required by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act
AFFI has consulted with its legal counsel Hogan Lovells to address many of the employee and human resource issues that your company might encounter related to COVID-19.
AFFI has compiled resources on sanitation, and good hygiene as well as guidance from the CDC, Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Small Business Administration for food facilities.
- Inform your local authorities that your facility will remain operational as part of the critical infrastructure of this country. Provide them with this guidance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that defines the industries, including our broad food industry, considered critical.
- Inform your workforce of the importance of keeping our food system operating and that includes your company, as part of our nation’s critical infrastructure. Encourage and recognize them for continuing to work.
- Provide your workforce with “certification” that they are employed by your company and as such, should be exempt from local restrictions such as curfews, shelter-in-place orders, and other mobility restrictions when reporting to/from work, or performing work functions. For this purpose, you may use this self-certification template for transportation employees and food and agriculture employees on your company letterhead. The language can be modified to suit your company’s needs.
Resources Developed by AFFI
- Country of Origin Labeling flexibility allows food products for foodservice to be sold at retail
- Nutrition Labeling of Certain Packaged Food
- USDA: Temporary Allowances for Labels Going to Retail
- Datassential COVID-19 consumer research and insights
- Overview of Paycheck Protection Program
- AFFI guidance for loans and tax breaks contained in the CARES Act
- AFFI summary of key provisions in CARES Act
- Employee Retention Credit
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act Employee Paid Leave Rights
- Proper Usage of Face Masks
- PPE FEMA Guidance
- PPE Distributors for the Food Industry
- FDA Infographic on Use of Respirators, Facemasks, and Cloth Face Coverings
- CDC Guidance for Agriculture Workers and Employees
- AFFI’s Guidance for Seasonal Workers
- Interim Guidance from CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Reporting a Temporary Closure or Significantly Reduced Production by a Human Food Establishment and Requesting FDA Assistance During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
- Guidance for California facilities that process or pack meat, dairy, or produce
- What to do if you have COVID-19 Confirmed Positive or Exposed Workers
- CDC Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations
- Temporary Policy for Preparation of Certain Alcohol-Based Sanitizer
- Temporary Policy for Manufacture of Alcohol for Incorporation into Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products
- Listen to this webinar on testing from the International Dairy Association.
- Listen to with and and AFFI to review and discuss available guidance for the produce industry.
OSHA Guidance and Regulations
- Guidance on Returning to Work
- Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
- Seasonal Worker Safety
- Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers
- OSHA Enforcement Discretion Memo
- OSHA Guidance on Recordkeeping related to COVID-19 Cases
The food industry should be aware of the following OSHA Regulations to maintain operations and reopen:
- PPE Requirements
- Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illness
- Eye and Face Protection
- Respiratory Protection
- Specification for Accident Prevention Signs and Tags
- General Duty Clause of the OSH Act
- Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Record
- Template for Transportation Employees in a Shut-down Area
- Template for Food and Agriculture Employees in a Shut-down Area
- Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19
- National Emergency Declaration for Commercial Vehicles
Employee Care and Human Resources
- Decision Tool for COVID-19 Case Scenarios
- FBIA + COVID19 + Case +Recommened Protocols_Disclaimer
- Screening Fod Industry Employees for COVID-19 Symptoms or Exposure
- Emergency-Prevention Measures to Achieve Physical/Social Distancing in Food Manufacturing Facilities
- Family and Medical Leave – Public Health Emergencies
- CDC: Criteria to Return to Work for Employees
- Labor Employment Considerations for US Employers Responding to the Coronavirus
- Hogan Lovells Summary of Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- AFFI webinar (4.17.20) on COVID-19 liability
- AFFI webinar (3.19.20) on HR challenges.
- National Association of Manufacturers – State Resources Library
- National Governors Association
- National Alliance for Public Safety Geographic Information Systems
- Community-Based Testing Sites for COVID-19
Community and Family Recommendations
- CDC Mitigation Strategies for Communities
- CDC Community Safety Infographic
- CDC Guidance for Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in Homes and Residential Communities
- FDA Coronavirus Resource and Q&A
- CDC Coronavirus Resource and Q&A
- WHO Coronavirus Resource and Q&A
- FEMA Coronavirus Rumor Control
- Department of Labor Coronavirus Resources
Resources from AFFI Partners
Current Understanding of Impact to Foods
There is no evidence demonstrating that COVID-19 is transmitted through consumption of foods. Since this is a novel coronavirus, researchers across the world have already begun to conduct specific experiments to evaluate its survivability in food environments. There is some evidence that the virus can survive on a variety of surfaces for up to a week including on food packaging. However, food packaging is also not known to be associated with transmission of the virus. Visit FeedingUS.org for more resources.
Good personal hygiene remains the best measure to prevent the spread of the virus. This includes washing hands and surfaces often, separating raw meat from other foods, cooking foods to the right temperature, and refrigerating foods promptly when handling or preparing food (clean, separate, cook, and chill).
The voluntary industry guidance on this website (“Industry Guidance”) is based on recommendations received from a variety of sources, including federal agencies, state health authorities, and industry advisors. As recommended practices continue to evolve, guidance on these issues also may have been issued by federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of Labor, state and local authorities, and others subsequent to the formulation of this Industry Guidance. For this reason, in addition to considering this Industry Guidance, readers are encouraged to review any and all updated guidance from either industry or governmental authorities, as well as any guidance that may be issued in the future, as it is expected that recommended practices will continue to evolve. Readers should also check this website for any updated versions of this Industry Guidance.
American Frozen Food Institute, United Fresh Produce Association and Western Growers Association disclaim all (1) express and implied warranties and (2) any liability that may allegedly result as a result of reliance on this Industry Guidance.
Readers are also encouraged to exercise their best judgment in considering whether, due to their particular individual circumstances, it would be reasonable to implement additional measures to further reduce the risks related to COVID-19. Readers are further encouraged to consider any and all additional authoritative resources and advice.