The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is serving Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing its work to facilitate a safe, healthy food supply.
“Food safety is paramount due to the nutrition provided by California fruits, nuts, vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy products to the health and wellbeing of our citizens,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “We know the importance of keeping supply chains healthy and borders open as currently one in eight individuals is food insecure, with one in five of those being children.”
CDFA is continuing its food inspection work while the agency’s senior leadership is utilizing extensive experience in sanitary practices, preventative controls, and emergency response to work closely with the California Office of Emergency Services, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), sister state agencies, federal partners, county agricultural commissioners, and the agriculture industry to ensure that California’s bounty can be relied upon as a large contributor to the overall food system and supply.
FOOD SAFETY CONCERNS AND COVID-19
CDPH is hosting a COVID-19 Updates website. Via the Guidance Documents section of the page, there is a Food Industry document that addresses common questions about COVID-19, including the continued safety of the food supply chain. The fact sheet, in part, references a statement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “FDA is not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggests COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.”
CDPH, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also state there is currently no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging. The CDC is reporting that, in general, because of poor survivability of the coronavirus on surfaces, there is likely a low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated or frozen temperatures.
In regard to food safety and hygiene by the food system work force, California’s standards are among the highest nationally. These include worker health and hygiene standards supported by labor laws that are specific about paid sick leave for people possibly affected by COVID-19 and unable to work. Food manufacturers have been required by longstanding federal and state laws and regulations to prevent anyone who is sick or has a communicable disease from handling, processing or preparing food for human consumption. Thus, industries handling food and agricultural commodities are well practiced at this important and general principle of food safety and hygiene.
CDFA, CDPH, USDA, CDC and FDA recommend that the best food safety advice for consumers and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic is to practice good hygiene, which begins with washing your hands.