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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: