Navigating Employee Health and Food Safety for Human and Animal Food Operations – Occupational Health and Safety

Navigating Employee Health and Food Safety for Human and Animal Food Operations: Key Considerations from OSHA and FDA

This checklist is just one resource industry can leverage to determine whether operations align with existing regulatory requirements and guidance out of the FDA, OSHA, and CDC.

In the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) March 18 briefing for stakeholders on COVID-19, Frank Yiannas, deputy commissioner of the Office of Food Policy and Response, assured listeners that the FDA is “committed to ensuring the safety of the food supply and that the food supply chain from farm to table is not disrupted.” In the same vein, Yiannas noted the importance of “protect[ing] the health and well-being of employees in the food industry responsible for bringing food from farm to table.” As the COVID-19 pandemic has since evolved, the FDA and OSHA jointly issued an Employee Health and Food Safety Checklist, covering considerations related to employee health and food safety for the food industry.

Applicability

The checklist is intended to be used by FDA-regulated human and animal food operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, including entities that are growing, harvesting, packing, manufacturing, processing, or holding human and animal food regulated by the FDA. The agencies indicate that the checklist may be useful “especially when re-starting operations after a shut down [sic] or when reassessing operations because of changes due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.” The items included in the checklist are not meant to cover every food operation. For example, while the checklist items that pertain to food safety may be useful for foreign firms that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food subject to FDA oversight, the OSHA-related safety items would not apply to those entities. Also, as indicated in the checklist, there is existing guidance applicable to specific sectors that should also be referenced, such as the Meat and Poultry Processors guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and OSHA or the Seafood Processing Workers guidance from the CDC, OSHA, and FDA.

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