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 on a daily basis with the best available guidance and resources from public health agencies to help SNAC members navigate the path forward.
State Tracker for Current COVID-19 Response Guidelines (Real-Time Updates)
This resource includes information on each state’s current COVID-19 response guidelines, including links to specific government orders, plans, and press releases. The page is updated in real-time as the states continue to assess specific re-opening and potential re-closing efforts, and adapt their local and state-wide plans and guidance accordingly. Access the tracker here.
(10/05/2020) – As companies continue to operate in the new COVID world, the threat of litigation remains a concern. Businesses that acted in good faith throughout the pandemic continue to face potential lawsuits. Adding to the confusion are the differing regulatory requirements that companies are expected to implement. Federal, state, and local regulators issued and then updated numerous regulations and policies related to COVID-19 throughout the year, some conflicting. To help SNAC members, SNAC and other industry associations sponsored and funded a resource which compiles federal and state legal guidance and directives. The document is intended to assist food manufacturing, distribution, and retail establishments in navigating relevant COVID-19 response requirements. The U.S. Federal and State COVID-19 Policies and Guidance for the Food Industry includes short descriptions and links to executive orders, rules, and guidance documents related to public and workplace safety in food establishments, including safety of employees, non-employee visitors, and customers, and is current as of August 28, 2020. Visit SNAC Member Resources (member login required) to access this useful resource. Become a SNAC member today for full access.
Vaccine Prioritization Sample Letter – 1/19/2021
Under CDC guidance, our industry is designated as essential workers, specifically as section 1b for vaccine distribution. SNAC worked with our legal counsel, Hogan Lovells, to provide a template for employers to share with employees to document themselves as essential food and agriculture workers within CDC’s Phase 1b. Note: CDC guidance is advisory and every state and locality determines how vaccines will be prioritized. There are varying approaches among the states—some are following CDC’s approach, and some are adding their own criteria so please consult your local and state health department.
CDC Presentation Slides – Covid-19 Vaccination Clinical Considerations with Dr Sarah Mbaeyi – 1/21/2021
Dr. Sarah Mbaeyi’s presentation detailing how to establish a company-wide vaccine program. The slides offer a concise overview of the vaccine’s and clinical observations, and the last 2 slides list CDC websites, vaccine tools and communications resources. Additionally, slide 19 highlights Vsafe, CDC’s smart phone based monitoring program.
Biden Administration’s Pandemic Preparedness Plan – 1/25/2021
The Biden administration released the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. The Strategy is organized around seven goals: 1. Restore the American people’s trust in the government. 2. Mount a safe, effective, and comprehensive vaccination campaign. 3. Mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through expanding masking, testing, data, treatments, health care workforce, and clear public health standards. 4. Immediately expand emergency relief and exercise the Defense Production Act. 5. Safely reopen schools, businesses, and travel while protecting workers. 6. Protect those most at risk and advance equity, including across racial, ethnic and rural/urban lines. 7. Restore U.S. leadership globally and build better preparedness for future threats.
Vaccine Toolkit – 1/25/2021
CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers: Getting Started.
FDA New Data Analysis Tool – 1/27/2021
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Foods Program has been using a new data analysis tool, called 21 FORWARD, that the agency created to help inform our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, through an important partnership between the FDA, members of Operation Warp Speed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), data from 21 FORWARD is also being made available to assist states with their planning efforts for vaccine distribution.
New Guidance for Employers regarding COVID-19 Vaccinations – 12/16/2020
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posted an updated and expanded guidance addressing questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The publication, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” now includes a new section (Section K) providing information to employers and employees about how a COVID-19 vaccination interacts with the legal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). The EEOC has also provided resources on its website related to the pandemic in an employment context.
State of Play of Vaccine Distribution for Food Industry – 12/3/2020There is much anticipation that FDA will approve COVID-19 vaccines in the next few weeks. Once approved, the Federal Government is set to distribute vaccines to states based on population and the states will ultimately control the distribution of the vaccines. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) released its recommendations on a four-phased framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Essential workers (including those in the food industry) from the nation’s critical infrastructure fall into Phase 2, behind healthcare workers, the elderly and those vulnerable populations at highest risk. For a thorough explanation of the state of play for vaccine approval and distribution, visit SNAC Member Resources here. FDA and OSHA Publish Checklist to Assist Food Industry During COVID-19 – 8/19/2020
Over the past few months, FDA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have developed a number of resources to help food industry employers continue or resume operations safely. These resources complement the FDA’s long-standing requirements for food producers to protect the safety of the food they produce. To assist the food industry as it navigates changes to operations related to COVID-19, the FDA has teamed up with OSHA to develop the “Employee Health and Food Safety Checklist for Human and Animal Food Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The checklist pulls from existing guidance provided by the FDA, CDC, and OSHA and serves 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.
FDA Provides Additional Labeling Flexibility for Manufacturers and Vending Operators During COVID-19 – 5/22/2020On May 22, 2020, FDA released a guidance providing temporary flexibility in food labeling requirements to manufacturers and vending machine operators. FDA is providing flexibility for manufacturers to make minor formulation changes without making corresponding label changes, such as making small changes to product ingredients (such as spices and oils). Additionally, the FDA is providing temporary flexibility to the vending machine operators on providing mandatory front of package, calorie information for foods sold in the vending machines. Read more here.
In response to concerns raised by the allergen community, SNAC reiterates the importance of alerting consumers to any changes in ingredients via company websites or at point-of-purchase. See the statement prepared by the Food and Beverage Issue Alliance (FBIA) of which SNAC is a member.
FDA Provides Update on Inspection Plans – 5/13/2020The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently provided an update regarding its plans for conducting routine surveillance inspections of domestic and foreign facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. FDA announced in March that it would temporarily postpone foreign and domestic inspections, with the exception of certain “mission critical” inspections, as identified on a case-by-case basis. In its most recent update, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn M.D. stated that the agency’s current approach will continue as local, national, and international conditions warrant. For more information, refer to the memo prepared by SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells. Coronavirus Testing Fact Sheet – 5/4/2020The Food Beverage Industry Alliance (FBIA) created a fact sheet to summarize and simplify for the general food and beverage industry COVID-19 test and testing information. This document is based on information provided to the public by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and collected through other knowledgeable sources, based on the authors best understanding. The factsheet covers types of tests, determining who and when to test, and suggestions for follow up after testing. Updated FDA Guidance on Antibody Testing – 5/4/2020The FDA revised its policy to improve antibody testing quality. FDA issued revised guidance to provide a policy to help accelerate the availability of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) tests developed by laboratories and commercial manufacturers for the duration of the public health emergency. The updated information may be found on FDA’s website and includes an article on the policy updates, the FDA guidance and a fact sheet.
What to Do if You Have COVID-19 Confirmed Positive or Exposed Workers in Food Production, Storage, or Distribution Operations – 4/24/2020
This summary, derived from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, outlines 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 if workers are diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19, or show symptoms associated with COVID-19. Links to more detailed practices and recommendations are also included. Additional analysis is included in the regulatory analysis prepared by SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells, here.
FDA and CDC Fact Sheet: Use of Respirators, Facemasks, and Cloth Face Coverings – 4/24/2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and to help people who are unaware they have the virus from spreading it to others. This has led to questions from the Food and Agriculture Sector about what respirators, disposable facemasks, such as surgical or medical masks, or cloth face coverings are most appropriate for various settings. This fact sheet, developed in collaboration with CDC, provides a quick reference to these items potentially worn by workers in the Food and Agriculture Sector. Respirators, disposable facemasks, or cloth face coverings are designed and worn for different purposes as described in the table found here. For an analysis of the FDA guidance, read the memo prepared by SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells, here.
FDA Updates FAQs to Address Masks – 4/16/2020
FDA updated its frequently asked questions to clarify that cloth face coverings recommended by CDC are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance. For workers in food production, processing, and retail settings who do not typically wear masks as part of their jobs, they recommend the following for cloth face covering to slow the spread of COVID-19: maintain face coverings in accordance with parameters in FDA’s Model Food Code and launder reusable face coverings before each daily use. The CDC has additional information on the use of face coverings, including washing instructions and information on how to make homemade face covers.
FDA Addresses Shopping for Food During the COVID-19 Pandemic – 4/16/2020
The FDA published guidance to answer safety questions related to grocery shopping during COVID-19. The guidance reassures consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus. It provides a list of tips to protect consumers, grocery store workers, and other shoppers and important food safety practices to prevent foodborne illness.
FDA Updates Guidance on Food Supply, Social Distancing, and Employees Positive for COVID-19 – 4/15/2020
The FDA recently supplemented its questions and answers guidance on topics regarding the food supply, social distancing, and responding to a worker who tests positive for COVID-19. Read the memo prepared by SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells to learn more.
FDA Announces Plans to Conduct Remote Foreign Supplier Verification Inspections – 4/07/2020
To learn more, read the memo prepared by SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells, here.
FDA Provides Guidance Regarding Changes in Variety Packs – 4/06/2020
FDA was recently asked whether during this time, FDA would be able to grant labeling flexibility for variety packs, if certain products contained inside the packs could be substituted by other products, or doubled-up in the place of omitted products. FDA responded, noting that it does not object if a firm omits some products from a variety package and double up on items that are already identified and properly labeled on the outside of the package. However, the omitted items may not be replaced with products for which complete ingredient and allergen labeling is not provided on the outer package. The substitution of similar products in a variety pack should be limited in nature and should only be considered when the need is imminent. FDA recommends the use of a sticker label on the outside of the variety package to indicate the change, however this is not mandatory during the COVID-19 emergency.
FDA Announces Two Policies to Provide Flexibility Regarding Nutrition Labeling Due to COVID-19 Pandemic – 3/26/2020
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 Issues Guidance Regarding Employees and COVID-19 – 3/23/2020
FDA updated its FAQ page to provide guidance on 3 topics of critical interest:
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/.
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.
CISA Updates Critical Infrastructure Workers Guidance to Provide Additional Recommendations and Clarify Scope of Food and Agriculture Sector – 4/20/20
The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) revised its interim guidance identifying critical infrastructure workers who the agency suggests should be exempt from state and local shelter in place orders, curfews, and similar restrictions on movement. The most recent update provides additional key principles for consideration by government and businesses, including recommended precautions for protecting workers. To read highlights of this guidance, which is non-binding on industry and government, read the memo prepared by SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells.
CDC Issues New Interim Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Workers – 4/08/2020
The CDC issued new interim guidance for critical infrastructure workers who have faced a potential exposure through a household contact or having close contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. The CDC advises “critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to return to work following potential exposure to COVID-19 provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.” The interim guidance can be found here. The guidance lays out several important practices that must be managed prior, during and after the work shift as well as other considerations for an employee’s participation in the workplace. For more, read the memo prepared by SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells, 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.
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.
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.
List of PPE Distributors – 4/21/2020
The DHS Food and Agriculture Sector Coordinating Council has been working to ensure food companies priority access to non-medical grade PPE. Please see the memo on this topic here and the attached list of the top 40 PPE distributors here.
FEMA Fact Sheet: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Addressing PPE Needs in Non-Healthcare Setting – 4/21/2020
This guidance summarizes how organizations should consider and manage their personal protective equipment (PPE) needs while ensuring the protection of workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response. Read the fact sheet here.
FDA Updates Guidance on Hand Sanitizers – 4/16/2020
In March, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance documents, first revised on March 27, temporarily relaxing certain regulatory requirements for the production of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, to respond to the increased demand for hand sanitizer products during the novel coronavirus crisis. Last week, FDA issued additional minor updates to these documents, including that fuel or technical grade ethanol should only be used if it meets food (or pharmaceutical) grade standards and has been screened for certain impurities. FDA also addresses several other topics, including the use of other technical grade ingredients, and the form of and packaging for the hand sanitizer. Read the memo from SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells to learn more.
Proper Uses of PPE – 4/07/2020
To address member concerns, SNAC and several associations have created an industry protocol on the proper usage of face masks. Similarly, attached is a memo drafted by SNAC Counsel, Hogan Lovell regarding the FDA and USDA update on COVID-19 food safety guidance regarding masks, inspector availability, and more.
Nontraditional Sources of PPE – 4/02/2020
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 – 4/02/2020
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.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to Provide Small Business Loans – 4/8/2020
Based on strong demand from small businesses, the PPP is live, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he intends to pass legislation increasing the amount of funding for the PPP. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called for the House to swiftly approve the Senate-passed measure increasing funds for the program. The Treasury Department has released a new FAQ document to further help small businesses apply for PPP loans, accessible here.
SNAC is a member of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Council of Manufacturing Associations, which has prepared an overview of how to qualify for PPP loans and how to utilize other loans and tax credits available to manufacturers. Find the overview here.
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.
WATCH: Thank You Video from Food & Beverage Issue Alliance – 5/01/2020
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue saluted heroes of the food industry – 03/20/2020
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.
Hours-of-Service Relief Extended Through June 14 – 5/13/2020
The extension of the Emergency Declaration, which had previously been extended from April 12 to May 14, will continue the emergency relief from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, such as hours-of-service rules for drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks. The declaration can be found here. States continue to issue their own emergency declarations providing hours-of-service relief as well as relief from truck weight limits. It is recommended to check with state associations and state departments of transportation for more information on the state-level application of the emergency declarations on trucking rules.
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.
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.
For questions on logistics or transportation disruptions, contact the National Business Emergency Operations Center at NBEOC@fema.dhs.gov.
Hill on the Brink of COVID-19 Relief Bill – 12/16/2020
Following months of debate, bipartisan talks will likely succeed in passing COVID relief legislation before lawmakers are planned to leave at the end of week. The current bill is roughly $900 billion. It includes another round of direct payments, boosts unemployment benefits, $257 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and potential funding for increased SNAP assistance. The package gives additional large sums to vaccine distribution, health care, education, and transportation. This movement is due to removing two contentious issues from the bill that have been stalling talks for months, funding for local and state governments and liability protection.
What Food Companies Should Know About the Third Federal COVID-19 Stimulus Package (CARES Act) – 3/30/2020Read the memo from SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells, here.
USDA Updates Guidance on Inspection and Export Services, Food Safety, and PPE
USDA recently updated its questions and answers guidance to address inspection and export certification services, face coverings, and the transmissibility of COVID-19 through food. Read the memo prepared by SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells to learn more.
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.
Daily Updated Coronavirus Website from WHO
WHO and FAO Release Guidance on Food Safety for Food Businesses- 04/07/2020
On April 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released interim guidance regarding food safety in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance provides recommended steps for protecting the health and safety of workers while maintaining the safety and availability of food. The WHO/FAO recommendations are largely consistent with those of FDA and USDA, though there are a few notable differences and issues on which the WHO/FAO provide more details than FDA and USDA, as well as areas where the WHO/FAO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) differ in their recommendations. The WHO/FAO guidance may be of particular interest to companies with operations outside the United States. Read the memo from SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells to learn more
COVID-19 Webinar: Considerations for the Food and Agriculture Sector When Testing Employees for Coronavirus, Thursday, May 14, 12PM ET
Many employers in the food and agriculture sector are considering testing employees for COVID-19. Employee testing plans raise legal and practical questions including whether testing is permissible, what kind of test to select, who should conduct it, who will pay for it, who can get the results and how the information should be protected. Join SNAC Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells on Thursday, May 14 to learn how employers evaluate these issues from our leading attorneys in medical device diagnostics, health care, employment law, and privacy. Register here.
Vaccine Distribution: Letter to President-elect Joe Biden – 1/8/2021SNAC and 13 allied trade associations sent a letter to President-elect Biden and his transition team offering to partner on an effort to ensure essential workers have access to vaccinations once sufficient doses of the coronavirus vaccine become available. The letter also requests a designated Federal Coronavirus Vaccine Coordinator in each of the 50 states and territories. The Coordinators’ responsibilities will be to liaise with state, territory, and local public health agencies to ensure an efficient distribution of the vaccine among priority populations such as frontline healthcare workers, older Americans, those with preexisting conditions, and essential workers. The partnership would ensure a strong, coordinated public education campaign that brings acceptance of vaccinations among the public.
SNAC Encourages Congress to Address Liability Protection in COVID-19 Relief Bill – 12/1/2020
SNAC continues to advocate for liability protection during the COVID-19 pandemic. SNAC and 36 trade associations representing various essential critical infrastructure industries signed a letter to House and Senate leadership urging the inclusion of liability protection in the next piece of COVID-19 relief legislation. The letter stresses the need for Congress to act to protect the businesses that have taken necessary precautions to protect their employees and customers while serving the country during the crisis.
SNAC Urges Michigan to Consider Food Supply Chain “Essential Industries” Under New Michigan Order – 12/1/2020
SNAC and allied trades submitted a letter to Governor Witmer and leaders in the Michigan legislature requesting the food and beverage supply chain be deemed as “essential industries” under a new Michigan order. Public Act 238 establishes a legal framework for how employers should treat employees who do not report to work under certain circumstances related to COVID-19, however, unlike Federal and CDC guidelines, the food and beverage industries were not listed as exempted essential workers.
SNAC, Allied Trade Associations Request Vaccine Prioritization for Critical Infrastructure Industries – 11/11/2020
As a result of the pandemic, the stress on the food and beverage supply chain continues to grow and is likely to be very challenging in the coming cooler months. SNAC and 14 other organizations representing the food, agriculture, retail, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) supply chain, sent a letter to President Trump and members of the White House Task Force requesting a federally orchestrated vaccine distribution program for COVID-19. The letter urged the Administration to prioritize essential workers in critical infrastructure industries, including those responsible for the nation’s food supply. Additionally, the vaccine program should leverage state and local public health organizations and activate a public education campaign as soon as possible.
AG CHAIN Act Providing Payroll Tax Relief to Front Line Workers Introduced – 5/12/2020
Representatives GT Thompson (R-PA) and Dwight Evans (D-PA) introduced the AG CHAIN Act, to provide payroll tax relief to front line workers in the agriculture, food processing, food distribution and food retail industries. SNAC’s Pennsylvania members participated in a constituent meeting with Rep. Thompson last month to advocate for expansion of the bill from only covering grocery retail workers. SNAC and 30 allied organizations sent a letter to U.S. Congress to encourage support for the legislation.
SNAC Calls for Targeted Liability Protection for Critical Infrastructure Industries – 5/12/2020
The Senate Judiciary Committee held an extensive hearing on the need for liability relief for businesses as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. SNAC joined a focused group of 32 organizations led by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) in calling for targeted liability protection for critical infrastructure industries. Senator Mitch McConnell released a briefing that summarizes the Senate Republicans’ views on the need for liability relief, including a call out to the companies on the letter.
Letter to Vice President Pence Requesting Testing Prioritization – 5/4/2020
In March, the food and agriculture, consumer packaged goods (CPG) and retail industries requested that — as testing capabilities expand – our operations have prioritized access to testing in those situations where it helps protect workers. The current inconsistencies in testing approaches from state to state and between localities has resulted in the need for some operations to downscale or shut down operations altogether. SNAC and associations representing the food supply chain submitted a letter to Vice President Pence requesting, once again, that the testing resources for our sectors be prioritized directly behind healthcare and first responders.
SNAC, Hundreds of Organizations Urge Congress to Enact Targeted Liability Protections for Essential Businesses – 5/3/2020
SNAC along with hundreds of organizations representing tens of million Americans working in essential critical infrastructure industries sent a letter to the leadership of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives urging for the enactment of fair, sensible rules that protect businesses acting as good Samaritans against misguided litigation. Read the letter here.
SNAC Advocates for Liability Protection for Essential Businesses – 4/23/2020
SNAC is working with industry partners to request that Congress provide liability protection for essential businesses in the next (Phase 4) COVID-19 stimulus bill. Many states and the U.S. have laws protecting good Samaritans from lawsuits which provide cover to individuals as well as corporations. During the COVID-19 crisis, businesses that make up the nation’s essential critical infrastructure are acting as good Samaritans. Provided there isn’t gross negligence or willful misconduct, businesses who are designated as essential critical infrastructure by the CISA guidance need liability protection for the duration of the national emergency. Read the one-pager on this initiative to learn more.
Member Action Alert: Support for Critical Infrastructure Employees – 4/20/2020
Food and agriculture industry workers remain on the job and essential to America’s coronavirus response. Despite the risks posed by the disease, they continue to show up for work every day. SNAC and its food supply chain partners are proposing that Congress offer a tax benefit that acknowledges, rewards and incentivizes food and other critical infrastructure workers for their continued dedication. The proposal would make the wages earned by these critical infrastructure workers tax free from the beginning of this crisis (March 13) until it ends. Contact your Members of Congress today to encourage them to provide tax relief for critical infrastructure employees. Click here to send a letter — it is quick and easy.
SNAC Coordinates Food and Beverage Industry Letter Requesting Extension of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Compliance Date – 4/15/2020
On April 15th, the Food and Beverage Issue Alliance, a large coalition of food and beverage companies, sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting a one-year compliance extension for the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. Additional time for compliance will ensure that the food industry can remain solely focused on the COVID-19 pandemic response. The current mandatory compliance date is Jan. 1, 2022. SNAC along with 21 other associations signed onto this letter.
Clarifying Critical PPE Needs for Food Companies – 4/15/2020
In response to varying interpretations of PPE requirements and reported state and local seizures of PPE equipment, SNAC, along with other food supply chain associations, have provided a fact sheet to Governors, and state and local officials. This fact sheet emphasizes that food companies are in need of immediate assistance to assure that PPE appropriate for their employees (food grade, not medical grade) is available and delivered on time. The food industry also wishes to have all Governors utilize the same guidelines in each State in order to ensure consistent guidelines for safety, public health and the ongoing efficient and effective operation of essential food companies.
SNAC Advocates for Tax Relief for Critical Infrastructure Employees – 4/10/2020
In an effort to demonstrate support for employees who continue to work during this pandemic, SNAC and 13 other food supply chain partners sent a letter to the White House and five agencies strongly urging direct tax relief for critical infrastructure workers. The proposal would provide essential employees relief from federal income taxes and payroll taxes, up to $50,000. SNAC will continue to advocate for aid which incentivizes employees to come to work and provides much needed financial assistance. View the letter here.
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:
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.
Agency Resources and Information:
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: