The Food and Agriculture Sector is considered critical infrastructure because food operations are vital to the health and well-being of the nation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has been working to support the sector so that Americans have access to the safe and healthy food they need. While most food production and supply chains have been resilient during the pandemic, there are FDA-regulated food establishments that have closed temporarily or face challenges that could lead to closures, because of COVID-19.
Today, the FDA published the guidance: Reporting a Temporary Closure or Significantly Reduced Production by a Human Food Establishment and Requesting FDA Assistance During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. * The guidance provides a mechanism for FDA-regulated establishments (human food facilities and farms), to voluntarily notify the agency of temporary closures and significant reductions in operations, or to request assistance from FDA on issues that might affect continuity of their operations during the pandemic.
Why is FDA asking food establishments to voluntarily report their status now?
Facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for consumption in the United States, register with FDA initially, and thereafter are required to update registration on a biennial basis or within 60 days, if certain changes in operations were to occur. In many cases, the FDA may not be aware that firms are temporarily closed or need to close as a result of the pandemic. More rapid and specific notification regarding the status of FDA-regulated establishments will help FDA understand the current status of the food supply and address challenges food producers are facing during the pandemic.
As part of the assistance to facilities who notify the FDA, the agency can provide information and guidance on worker safety, protective equipment for personnel, and facility sanitation, among others. FDA will work with its federal government partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Agriculture, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and state, local, tribal and territorial regulatory partners to provide the most up-to-date assistance.
To request assistance and/or report a closure or a reduction in operations, go to the FDA’s Food and Cosmetics Information Center.*
*This guidance does not apply to restaurant and retail food establishments or to animal food operations.