The FDA Addresses Food Safety and Supply Concerns During COVID-19 Outbreak
On March 24, Frank Yiannas, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, published a detailed assurance to the public of the continued safety and supply of food in the United States, despite the growing COVID-19 pandemic concern.
The article assures the public of the FDA’s continued commitment to “protecting the health of the American people, and to facing any challenges in food safety and access that arise during this public health emergency”.
Although the spread of Coronavirus is still being investigated, it is understood to occur via person-to-person and respiratory droplets. There have been no cases which show a connection between contaminated animal or human food packaging and the Coronavirus. COVID-19 differs from other common viruses such as Norovirus and Hepatitis A, as these are food-borne viruses which cause gastrointestinal illness whereas Coronavirus is a person-to-person and droplet spread virus causing respiratory illness.
Therefore, the FDA and other food safety officials do not believe that there is reason for concern over the contamination of properly handled food. Consequently, they do not anticipate the need for recalling any food products, for humans or animals, in relation to the Coronavirus.
The FDA also addressed the seeming shortage of food supply at grocery stores due to many empty shelves. Yiannas explains that the phenomena of empty shelves is “not a lack of capacity to produce, process and deliver” rather, “an issue of unprecedented demand”, due to the unnecessary concern of the public that in fact, food supplies would be affected. Yiannas assures the public that through “ongoing communication with the industry” he can confirm that “there are currently no widespread disruptions reported in the supply chain”.
The FDA reminds the public to be particularly mindful of personal hygiene during this time, especially through the careful washing of hands and social-distancing.