Farmers & Ranchers

FARMERS AND RANCHERS ARE THE LIFE-LINE OF THE UNITED STATES. THEY ARE KEEPING OUR SHELVES STOCKERS AND FOOD ON OUR TABLES. THANK YOU TO THOSE CARING FOR A LAND AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

 

The Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture 

USDA COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Resources from Farmaid

National Young Farmers Coalition Resource Bank

BELOW IS A QUESTION-AND-ANSWERS FROM THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION: 

 

Q: Can I become sick with coronavirus (COVID-19) from food?

A: We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.

 

Q: Are meat products compromised by the Coronavirus?

A: We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.

 

Q: Is FSIS taking any extra precautions when receiving food products from nations that have confirmed cases of COVID-19?

A: We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods.

 

Q: Is food imported to the United States from China and other countries affected by COVID-19 at risk of spreading COVID-19?

A: Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

 

Q: Are food products produced in the United States a risk for the spread of COVID-19?

A: There is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19.

 

Q: Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food, the food packaging, or food contact surfaces, if the coronavirus was present on it?

A: Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety — clean, separate, cook, and chill.

 

Q: If an inspector or worker in a meat processing plant became infected with coronavirus, would the meat produced at that facility be safe to eat?

A: Public health and food safety experts do not have any evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. FSIS in-plant personnel who are ill with COVID-19 or any other illness will be excluded from work activities that could create unsanitary conditions (coughing or sneezing on product). COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets that can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. More information about how the virus spread is available from the CDC (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html).

 

Q: Where should the food industry go for guidance about business operations?

A: Food facilities, like other work establishments, need to follow protocols set by local and state health departments, which may vary depending on the amount of community spread of COVID-19 in a particular area. We encourage coordination with local health officials for all businesses so that timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each location where their operations reside.

 

Q: Is FSIS requesting that plants report to FSIS if employees become ill with COVID-19? Will the Agency reciprocate?

A: In the event of a diagnosed COVID-19 illness, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will follow, and is encouraging establishments to follow, the recommendations of local public health authorities regarding notification of potential contacts. FSIS will keep the lines of communication open so we can address the evolving situation.

 

Q: Have any of FSIS’ audits of foreign countries’ (or foreign countries auditing the U.S.’) food safety systems been delayed due to COVID-19?

A: As USDA’s public health agency, FSIS is committed to ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of all imported meat, poultry, and processed egg products for American families. For the safety of our auditors, FSIS does not provide the dates when the auditors are scheduled to conduct in-country equivalence audits in a foreign country. FSIS has delayed both U.S. and foreign country audits in accordance with the State Department’s guidance. FSIS continues to monitor the situation and will evaluate the feasibility of its upcoming audits as the situation evolves, including reviewing State Department guidance on foreign travel.

 

Q: How will FSIS-regulated establishments handle cleanup if cases have been identified at the facility?

A: Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product. All FSIS-regulated establishments are required to have Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (Sanitation SOP), which are written procedures that an establishment develops and implements to prevent direct contamination or adulteration of product. It is the establishment’s responsibility to implement the procedures as written in the Sanitation SOPs. The establishment must maintain daily records sufficient to document the implementation and monitoring of the Sanitation SOPs and any corrective action taken. FSIS verifies that regulated establishments adhere to the procedures in place. The same sanitary procedures that establishments are already following to protect food safety will also help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a list of disinfectants that have qualified under EPA's emerging viral pathogen program for use against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

 

Q: Is FSIS requesting/requiring their employees to report if they have been to a Level 3 country (Level 1 or 2)?

A: FSIS employees will be following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) and State Department’s recommendations for travel.

 

Q: Can a county health department or state government shut down an FSIS-regulated establishment?

A: Yes, and FSIS will follow state and local health department decisions.

 

Q: Is FSIS prepared to handle an increased rate of absenteeism of food inspectors due to COVID-19?

A: Safeguarding and ensuring the U.S. supply chain remains strong is our top priority. Our front-line supervisors and district managers are working closely with state and local health authorities to handle situations as they arise. FSIS is prepared to be operationally nimble and to use all administrative means and flexibilities available to protect the health and safety of employees based on local public health recommendations. Planning for absenteeism is a part of normal FSIS operations. FSIS has a plan and authority to address staffing considerations and is prepared to act accordingly.

 

Q: Is FSIS encouraging inspectors to stay home if they exhibit flu-like symptoms?

A: FSIS always encourages employees who are sick to stay home. Employees exhibiting symptoms are also encouraged to follow recommendations from local, state and Federal public health regarding reporting of illness, consulting with healthcare providers and self-quarantining as necessary.

 

Q: Want to see what the FDA is doing?

A: The FDA also has a list of frequently asked questions such as:

  • Is the U.S. food supply safe?

  • Will there be food shortages?

  • What measures are FDA (and CDC, state partners, etc.) taking to ensure that we remain able to address foodborne illness outbreaks during the COVID-19 pandemic?

See more on FDA's Frequently Asked Questions webpage.