SNAC has developed this page to serve as a resource center for the snack industry on how best to manage the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This page will be updated in real time with the best available guidance and resources from public health agencies to help SNAC members navigate the path forward.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
First, the agency committed to work cooperatively with all manufacturers for the remainder of the year regarding the use of updated Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels and will not focus on enforcement actions during this time. FDA had previously announced this form of enforcement discretion for the first six months of implementation after the January 1, 2020 compliance date, which has now been extended until January 1, 2021. Second, FDA also issued a new guidance document that details the conditions under which a restaurant or food manufacturer may sell packaged food labeled for foodservice use (i.e., without nutrition labeling) directly to consumers. For analysis on FDA’s announcement, refer to the memo prepared by SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells.
FDA updated its FAQ page to provide guidance on 3 topics of critical interest:
- How to maintain social distancing in food processing facilities
- Should food retail/distribution personnel wear masks?
- What do to if an employee tests positive for COVID-19
Additionally, to augment the guidance released by FDA, SNAC and a coalition of food and beverage associations developed protocols for: what to do in the event an employee/customer tests positive for COVID-19, as well as social distancing and screening food industry employees. Learn more at https://www.feedingus.org/ – 4-02-2020
FDA Coronavirus Website
Frequently Asked Questions on FDA Issues (Updated Daily)
For food safety technical questions, visit here.
As the need for hand sanitizer dramatically increases, many manufacturers are seeking to produce alcohol-based hand sanitizers using certain food grade materials, or to produce alcohol to be used in production of such sanitizers. FDA and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) have relaxed certain regulatory requirements for the production of alcohol-based sanitizers. Read the memo analyzing recently issued guidance from FDA and TTB here.
Critical Infrastructure Designation
Can Food Manufacturing Facilities Continue to Operate? – 3/19/2020
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a memo on March 19 identifying the breadth of the food/agriculture supply chain as a “critical” industry. This ensures that food manufacturer and supplier employees are considered Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers and should be allowed to maintain normal work schedules, if questioned by state or local officials. Read the full memo from DHS here.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Releases Updated Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers – 3/28/2020
View the updated guidance here. More information can be found on the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency website. For more analysis concerning this update, read the memo prepared by SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells, here. – (3/31/2020)
Analysis: Department of Homeland Security Identification of Food and Agriculture and Transportation Industries as Critical Infrastructure Sectors – 3/20/2020
For additional background on federal government policy prioritizing the continued operation of the food sector and related transportation operations as Critical Infrastructure Sectors, read the memo from SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells, here, as well as the Supplemental Update here. Although not binding on state and local authorities, the guidance provides a central reference point likely to be instructive as states and localities implement movement restrictions.
Identification for Employees, Contractors, Carriers and Suppliers as Critical Industry Infrastructure Workers
Click here to access letter templates to provide food/transportation employees identifying them as critical industry infrastructure workers.
For suppliers: click here to access your letter template. It is recommended that you add these letters to your company letterhead. These letters seek to ensure employees are considered exempt from local restrictions such as curfews, shelter-in-place orders, and other mobility restrictions when reporting to, returning from, or performing work functions.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
With snack industry facilities facing PPE shortages, SNAC continues to work with the government to address this problem. Additionally, several private companies have pivoted from their traditional manufacturing and are now producing PPE in their facilities. Faurecia, Volkswagen’s interior parts manufacturer in Chattanooga, TN, which typically manufactures cloth seat covers, has pivoted to producing FDA-approved masks and gowns. Volkswagen will purchase and then donate the first shipment to the Javits Center in New York. For further purchases of face masks/gowns, Faurecia notes its capacity is now 1-1.5 million masks per week and .5 million gowns per week. Find contact information to request an order here.
Additionally, many distilleries across the nation have begun making hand sanitizer. The Distilled Spirits Council has a helpful website which seeks to match distillers with customers. Details on the site include distillers’ estimated weekly production, how they’re packaging sanitizer, and how to get in touch with them. Visitors can search the list of distillers by their city, state, name, and more. Access the portal here.
CDC Releases PPE Burn Rate Calculator
The CDC posted a PPE Burn Rate Calculator — a tool that may be useful in healthcare settings and “for planning PPE use outside the context of COVID-19, where PPE shortages may also occur due to supply chain issues related to the COVID-19 response (e.g. manufacturing facilities).” The calculator allows for customization to “other” making it potentially useful for the food industry as well.
Thank You Food Industry Workers
During this crisis, all food industry workers deserve gratitude as members of the food supply chain for their tireless efforts in ensuring Americans have continued access to safe food. To show this gratitude, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue saluted heroes of the food industry, sending a personal thank you message via video to every frontline worker. Secretary Perdue speaks on behalf of all Americans in identifying food workers as heroes.
State and Local Activities
Up-to-Date Information on State and Local Declarations – Updated daily
This resource from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) includes updated information on state and local declarations and their impact on manufacturing operations and facilities. Click here.
Department of Transportation/FMCSA
Hours of Service Flexibility – 3/18/2020
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) expanded emergency authorities to allow additional regulatory relief for operators providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19. This includes transportation efforts related to food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores as well as immediate precursor raw materials-such as paper, plastic or alcohol-that are required for manufacturing. Read the full announcement here.
FMCSA Grants Waiver to CDL and CLP Holders – 3/24/2020
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has granted a waiver to CDL and CLP holders who have experienced issues with obtaining access to DMV offices and to medical examiners, many of whom are refusing to take appointments for DOT physicals due to contamination concerns. The waiver extends the date of expiration – until June 30 – of applicable CDLs, CLPs, and non-CDL licenses of commercial drivers, as well as medical certificates that would otherwise expire between March 1 and June 30. View the waiver here.
For questions on logistics or transportation disruptions, contact the National Business Emergency Operations Center at NBEOC@fema.dhs.gov.
Economic Stimulus Package
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
USDA Coronavirus Website
USDA Announces Enforcement Discretion to Provide Labeling Flexibility for Retail Meat and Poultry Products Originally Intended for Food Service – 3/24/2020
Read the analysis from SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells, here.
USDA Announces Feeding Program Partnership in Response to Covid-19 – 3/17/2020
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a collaboration with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo, and others to deliver nearly 1,000,000 meals a week to students in a limited number of rural schools closed due to COVID-19. Learn more.
World Health Organization (WHO)
SNAC, Allied Trade Associations Urge Congress to Provide Financial Aid to Food Industry Workers – 4-3-2020
SNAC and allied organizations sent a letter to congressional leadership urging them to provide targeted financial aid to workers in critical industries as they work to care for, feed and protect Americans through the coronavirus outbreak. Whether by exempting these essential critical infrastructure workers from federal taxes and requiring immediate adjustments to their tax withholdings, or by providing direct payments, the federal government should stand by our workers as they serve as the nation’s lifeline during this difficult time.
SNAC, Allied Trade Associations Ask FDA for Labeling Flexibility During COVID-19 Crisis – 3/24/2020
SNAC and the Food & Beverage Issue Alliance sent a letter to FDA requesting that the Agency:
- Allow food products originally intended for foodservice to be sold at retail with alternative methods of conveying critical health and safety information.
- Provide additional flexibility for other labeling issues, such as ingredient omissions or substitutions due to supply chain disruptions.
- Extend the cooperative period for the modified nutrition facts label for an additional 6 months to January 1, 2021.
SNAC International, Allied Food Trade Groups Request Clarification on Exemption from Local Gathering Bans and Curfews – 3/18/2020
SNAC along with 60+ members of the food value chain sent a letter to all federal, state and local elected officials requesting uniformity on exemptions that food, beverage, and consumer packaged goods manufacturing facilities are exempted from gathering bans. Read letter here.
SNAC, 100+ Business Organizations Urge President, Congressional Leadership to Ensure Business Access to Capital – 3/18/2020
This letter urges adoption of broad-based policies to ensure business liquidity in the days and weeks ahead. While not industry-specific, it calls for actions that will ensure business access to capital to ensure continuity and the ability to help the economy recover once the health crisis is behind us. Read letter here.
SNAC, 100+ Business Organizations Urge Senate Leadership to Improve Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) – 3/17/2020
The letter suggests changes to H.R. 6201, including ensuring all American workers have access to paid leave in the face of this public health crisis while also providing relief to businesses and important incentives to sustain access to employer-provided health benefits, on which nearly 180 million Americans depend. Read the letter here.
Additional Links and Resources
Analysis: FDA Temporarily Postpones Routine Domestic Inspections – 3/20/2020
On March 18, 2020, FDA announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic the agency has temporarily postponed all domestic routine surveillance facility inspections. This announcement is not limited to the food industry, but the impacts for the food industry are the focus of this memorandum. FDA is taking this action for the health and well-being of inspection personnel and because of industry concerns about visitors. FDA will continue to conduct domestic for-cause inspections if they are determined to be mission-critical. Read the memo here.
Analysis: COVID-19 Update: FDA and USDA Issue Guidance for Industry and Inspectors – 3/18/2020
As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has continued to escalate, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have taken additional action to provide industry, the public, and inspectors with guidance concerning food safety and how to respond in the event that food industry personnel test positive for COVID-19. Importantly, FDA does not anticipate that food products would need to be recalled or be withdrawn from the market when a food employee tests positive for COVID-19, because there is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging. Similarly, USDA says that it is not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. Read the memo here.
Agency Resources and Information:
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- U.S. Department of Defense
- U.S. Department of Education
- U.S. Department of Energy
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Department of Labor
- U.S. Department of State
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Small Business Administration
To empower federal, state, local, and private sector COVID-19 response efforts, President Trump is cutting red tape. From providing flexibility for healthcare providers, to expediting and expanding testing, to empowering educators and supporting small business, President Trump is reducing regulations to address the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are just some of the steps the President has taken to reduce regulations in the whole of government effort:
- President Trump took action to give HHS the authority to waive certain rules and regulations to provide flexibility to healthcare providers in response to the coronavirus emergency.
- The President signed legislation removing restrictions preventing manufacturers from selling industrial masks – which can readily protect healthcare workers – directly to hospitals.
- FDA empowered certain qualified laboratories to use validated coronavirus tests while their Emergency Use Authorization requests were under review.
- The FDA took action to empower states to authorize tests developed and used within their borders.
- CMS removed restrictions on telehealth for Medicare patients, dramatically expanding access across the country.
- HHS lifted HIPAA penalties to enable healthcare providers to expand telehealth for their patients.
- The Department of Education has given broad approval to colleges and universities to allow them to more easily move their classes online.
- USDA waived certain requirements to allow children to continue receiving meals during school closures.
- SBA relaxed criteria for disaster assistance loans – greatly expanding small businesses’ access to economic assistance.