International Dairy Foods Update on Corona Virus

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a global health emergency. On March 11, WHO declared the virus a global pandemic.

The virus, now known as COVID-19, was first identified in January in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Confirmed cases are concentrated in China but have spread throughout Asia and more recently into Europe and other regions, including a small number in the United States and Canada.

We know that our members are managing preparedness within their companies and organizations to the best of their ability. As you address concerns related to workforce, supply chains, travel, and other issues, IDFA wants you to have reliable information, and has compiled the information below as a service to members.

What We Know about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

According to the World Health Organization, Coronaviruses (CoV or COVID-19) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.

IDFA recommends members regularly review the most recent guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO):

According to the WHO, there are more than 128,000 cases worldwide, including more than 1,3000 cases and 38 deaths so far reported in the United States.

While the U.S. Government considers this a serious public health concern, based on current information, the CDC has determined that the immediate health risk from COVID-19 to the general American public is low at this time. The best advice remains wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands; and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Guidance to Employers

The CDC instructs all employers to prepare to implement strategies to protect their workforce from COVID-19 while ensuring continuity of operations. During a COVID-19 outbreak, all sick employees should stay home and away from the workplace; respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene should be encouraged; and routine cleaning of commonly touched surfaces should be performed regularly. CDC recommends employers should:

  1. Ensure the plan is flexible and involve your employees in developing and reviewing your plan.
  2. Conduct a focused discussion or exercise using your plan, to find out ahead of time whether the plan has gaps or problems that need to be corrected.
  3. Share your plan with employees and explain what human resources policies, workplace and leave flexibilities, and pay and benefits will be available to them.
  4. Share best practices with other businesses in your communities (especially those in your supply chain), chambers of commerce, and associations to improve community response efforts.

For companies that want to review or refresh pandemic preparedness plans, the WHO provides the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response manual, free of charge.

The Department of Labor (DOL) provides practical guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19 and for creating and maintaining safe work practices: Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.

The Wage and Hour Division of DOL provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to influenza, pandemics, or other public health emergencies: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.

IDFA recommends that companies align with guidance from the WHO and CDC, as well as local governments, on travel restrictions and other guidance to help keep our people and our communities safe and healthy. In some cases, companies may decide to use tighter restrictions based on risks to the business and supply chains. Many companies are assessing or implementing contingency plans, including engaging backup suppliers/carriers where necessary, and IDFA encourages you take these steps.

At this time, there are no travel restrictions within the United States.

Events and Conferences

The health and welfare of IDFA members and attendees of IDFA events is our most important consideration. IDFA is closely monitoring the potential impact on travel related to coronavirus (COVID-19) and will provide updates as necessary. At this time, all airports and hotels in the United States are operating normally.

We encourage all guests and attendees to use safe travel practices as shared by the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html

For IDFA-hosted events, IDFA is working with our hotels to increase cleaning of public areas including elevator buttons, railings, door handles, public bathrooms, etc., for our guests and conference attendees. Additionally, sanitizing and disinfecting products will be made available for hotel guests and conference attendee at IDFA-hosted events.

IDFA will update guests and attendees of IDFA-hosted events about any disruptions in travel should they occur.

Food Safety

It is important to note that no public health authority has advised of any concern that this illness can be transmitted or has been known to be transmitted via food or drink. The FDA has published a Q&A which addresses some questions regarding food and food workers. Please see: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-issues/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-frequently-asked-questions

IDFA is confident that dairy foods produced and processed in the United States are safe and wholesome and the system in place to ensure the safety and integrity of dairy foods is working as intended.

Dairy foods produced and processed in the United States are some of the most highly regulated and safest foods available to consumers. For example, the milk in your glass was tested up to 17 different times before it reached you. Milk and dairy foods must undergo several safety and quality procedures, such as pasteurization, to make sure they are safe and wholesome for you to consume.

With recent food-borne illness outbreaks and questions about the transmission of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), people are concerned about the safety of their food now more than ever. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies establish processes and protocols that all food must go through to ensure that it is safe for consumers to eat. All milk and dairy products must undergo multiple safety, quality and sanitation tests and procedures on the farm, in transit and at the processing plant to ensure their safety. Preserving the quality and safety of milk begins at the farm and follows through to the refrigerator.

FDA is working with U.S. government partners, including the CDC, and international partners to closely monitor coronavirus. While the U.S. government views this a serious public health concern, based on current information, the CDC has determined that the immediate health risk from COVID-19 to the general American public is considered low at this time.

The U.S. government continues to monitor U.S. ports of entry, shipping channels, processing facilities, and the food supply to ensure the safety and integrity of U.S. food and beverages. At this time, there is no heightened concern for the safety of food produced and processed in the United States, including dairy foods. The U.S. government, the WHO, as well as the governments of Ireland, Australia, Germany, and others, recommend consumers adhere to standard, proper food safety practices when handling and preparing all foods.Please see FDA’s statement: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-supply-chain-update

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