FDA Issues COVID-19 Guidance to U.S. Exporters of Food Products
The FDA’s Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease Guidance (the “Guidance”) is a resource for the food industry as it responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 29, 2020, the FDA updated the page to include a section on considerations for U.S. exporters of FDA-regulated food products.
While cautioning that U.S. exporters are responsible for following the requirements of the countries to which they export (in addition to U.S. laws and regulations), the updated guidance reiterates that, despite the request from some countries for “commitments to provide information that food is free of the COVID-19 virus and/or has been produced under conditions that prevent contamination by the COVID-19 virus,” there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in food or food packaging and that the FDA does not anticipate the need to recall food products because of COVID-19. (For media coverage of such requests from Chinese authorities, see here). In response to these requests, the guidance (1) states that the FDA is communicating its understanding of the science of COVID-19 transmission and food safety to foreign governments, (2) recommends that U.S. exporters distinguish between official food safety requirements and business requests, and (3) encourages exporters to use FDA’s COVID-19 resources when interacting with foreign countries.
The foreign country requests highlight the importance of following the COVID-19 best practices laid out in the Guidance (and linked documents), including frequently disinfecting surfaces, checking workers temperatures, and ensuring that workers are socially distanced. Keller and Heckman will continue to monitor and report on COVID-19 related developments that impact the food industry.