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Highlights From FDA Animal Food Stakeholder Call

The Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine held a conference call for the animal food industry related to operating manufacturing facilities during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Some highlights from the call include:
  • Reiteration that the human food and animal food supply is safe. There is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted via food or food packaging to humans or animals.
  • FDA does not anticipate that animal food products would need to be recalled or withdrawn if a manufacturing facility employee tests positive for COVID-19.
  • The FDA provided some tips for protecting the health of the workforce:
    • While not mandated for employee health reasons, manufacturers looking to clean their facilities should follow the Current Good Manufacturing Practices requirements to maintain clean food contact surfaces, which should also help reduce the potential transmission between employees.
    • Practicing social distancing between employees when practical.
    • When social distancing is impractical, workers should maintain effective hygiene practices to reduce potential transmission.
  • What if an employee tests positive for COVID-19? The FDA advises manufacturers to:
    • Review the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's guidance for businesses.
    • Follow cleaning protocols established by state authorities.
    • Inform fellow employees of potential exposure while protecting the sick employee's private information.
    • The sick employee should follow the advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding when it is safe to return to work.
    • Double the cleaning effort of the facility and common areas.
    • At this time, there is no need to conduct environmental testing in a facility. The FDA said that resources would best be spent cleaning the food contact surfaces and other parts of the facility to reduce potential transmission between employees.
    • A product recall would not be anticipated.
    • Firms should follow local and state health department guidelines regarding closure of the facility.
  • Domestic and foreign routine surveillance inspections are delayed at this time and will be reevaluated periodically.
  • Only mission-critical food safety inspections will occur such as follow-up on animal illness or death reports, Class I recalls or past inspection deficiencies.
  • Any domestic inspections will be pre-announced during this time.
  • The FDA will be stepping up its remote work, having inspectors contact facilities to verify the information that will be used to clean up the database used to assign inspections. Items that will be asked include: if the facility is still operating, what products are manufactured at the facility, if the address is correct, etc. Responses to these questions are voluntary but will assist the FDA in properly assigning inspection resources in the future.
Materials are being added and updated frequently on the agency's webpage devoted to animal health and safety. The FDA added new information today to its Frequently Asked Questions regarding steps to take in the event an employee tests positive for COVID-19. For additional assistance from the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine on animal food safety matters, contact AskCVM@fda.hhs.gov.

Source: AFIA

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