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Coronavirus Update (as of May 27, 2020)


Concerns about the Coronavirus (Covid-19 or the virus) are growing daily. The following are links and basic information for members regarding what they may consider doing, and what they must do, to protect their employees and their operations.


Industry Best Practices


NAMI Resources for CDC/OSHA Guidance for COVID-19


NAMI Prepared Guidance Documents for COVID-19 and Employee Health


Updated Occupational Safety and Health Agency Guidance

In April, U.S. Department of Labor Solicitor of Labor Kate O’Scannlain and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA or the agency) Loren Sweatt issued a Statement of Enforcement Policy regarding Meat and Poultry Processing Facilities (Statement).  The Statement stressed the importance of companies adhering to the Joint Meat Processing Guidance (Guidance) to protect workers from the risk of COVID-19 infection.  The Statement referenced enforcement guidance OSHA issued April 13 and stated “employers should conduct worksite assessments to identify COVID-19 risks and prevention strategies,” implement them and where necessary document why they deviated from the Guidance.  The Statement also said, if investigations occur, OSHA “will take into account good faith attempts” to follow the Guidance.

On Tuesday, May 19, OSHA issued two updated guidance documents, which are discussed below.  These two updates could prompt OSHA offices across the country to become more active regarding COVID-19.  It is important for companies to have an assessment and control plan in place and, as discussed below, have documented deviations from the Guidance.  Recognizing OSHA officials have a job to do, please contact the Meat Institute if an OSHA inquiry is overly broad.

The first is an Updated Interim Enforcement Response Plan for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which provides updated instructions and guidance to OSHA Area Offices and compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs) for handling COVID-19-related complaints, referrals, and severe illness reports.  Attachment 1 to that Updated Guidance, Specific Guidance for COVID-19 Enforcement, references meat and poultry processing in several instances.  The Workplace Risk Levels section characterizes jobs in meat and poultry processing as medium exposure risk jobs.  Likewise, in the Complaints, Referrals, and Rapid Response Investigations section the agency states “[F]ormal complaints, such as complaints related to SARS-CoV-2 exposures in meat processing, may also be inspected on-site, based on case-specific facts or resource limitations constraining such investigations.” 

OSHA inspections and investigations are occurring throughout the country in food manufacturing facilities, including meat and poultry processors and those activities could increase with this new guidance.  Conversations with OSHA’s Enforcement Division highlight the importance of having prepared an assessment and control plan and documenting deviations from the Guidance.  Companies also may wish to review these regulatory provisions cited in the updated enforcement document as they relate to COVID-19. 

The second updated guidance OSHA issued is Revised Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).  Employers must record cases of COVID-19 if these requirements are met:

  • The case is a confirmed COVID-19 case, as defined by CDC;
  • The case is work-related, as defined by 29 CFR § 1904.5; and
  • The case involves one or more of the recording criteria in 29 CFR § 1904.7 (e.g., medical treatment, days away from work).

Consistent with its earlier version, OSHA recognized “it remains difficult to determine whether a COVID-19 illness is work-related, especially when an employee has experienced potential exposure both in and out of the workplace.”  The updated recording guidance, however, articulates more complex guidelines for employers to use when trying to determine whether a recording obligation exists – a complexity that imposes a greater onus on companies. 

Those guidelines include these considerations.  

  • The reasonableness of the employer's investigation into work-relatedness. The agency indicates it is “sufficient in most circumstances”
    1. to ask the employee how he believes he contracted COVID-19;
    2. respecting employee privacy, to discuss with the person work and out-of-work activities that may have led to the COVID-19 illness; and
    3. to review the employee's work environment for potential SARS-CoV-2 exposure.
  • The evidence available to the employer.  Whether a COVID-19 illness was work-related should be based on information reasonably available when an employer makes a work-relatedness determination.  Subsequently acquired information also should be considered.
  • The evidence that a COVID-19 illness was contracted at work.  OSHA directs CSHOs to “take into account all reasonably available evidence” and consider circumstances such as:

    • when several cases develop among workers who work closely together and there is no alternative explanation;
    • when an illness is contracted shortly after lengthy, close exposure to a customer or coworker with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and there is no alternative explanation; and
    • when an employee’s job duties include having frequent, close exposure to the general public in a locality with ongoing community transmission and there is no alternative explanation.

The evidence discussion also included considerations that could mean an illness is not job related, such as when:

  • the employee is the only worker to contract COVID-19 in a “vicinity” and job duties do not include frequent contact with the general public, regardless of the rate of community spread; or
  • an employee, outside the workplace, closely and frequently associates with someone (e.g., a family member, significant other, or close friend) who (1) has COVID-19; (2) is not a coworker, and (3) exposes the employee when the individual is likely infectious.

The updated guidance documents, coupled with the OSHA investigations that are ongoing and those likely to occur, highlight the importance of preparing a thorough assessment and control plan, reviewing the relevant regulations, and examining the facts surrounding employees’ COVID-19 illnesses to determine recording obligations. 

Hogan Lovells also prepared a memorandum summarizing the OSHA updates. 


New CDC Guidance on Contact Tracing

The CDC recently released HEALTH DEPARTMENTS: Interim Guidance on Developing a COVID-19 Case Investigation & Contact Tracing Plan. This new contact tracing guidance discusses the importance and role for case investigation and contact tracing. Case investigation involves identifying and investigating employees with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 illness, and contact tracing involves identifying, monitoring, and supporting an ill individual’s “contacts” who have been exposed to, and possibly infected with, the virus. Case investigation and contact tracing is often done by the state and local health departments. However, employers should develop a workplace contact tracing program as part of their COVID-19 Assessment and Control Plan to identify employees who may have been exposed to the virus.

Close contact refers to someone within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 48 hours before illness onset until the ill individual was isolated. Currently, the “15 minutes of close exposure” standard is recommended as an operational definition for contact investigation. Factors to consider when defining close contact include proximity, duration of exposure (e.g., longer exposure time likely increases exposure risk), whether the individual has symptoms (e.g., coughing likely increases exposure risk), whether either the ill individual or contact were wearing an N95 respirator (which can efficiently block respiratory secretions from contaminating others and the environment) and other controls (e.g. barriers and partitions). At this time, differential determination of close contact for those using fabric face coverings is not recommended.


Resources for Media Relations

  • Member Release on Employee Positive for COVID-19: PDF, DOC

Executive Order Regarding Meat and Poultry Processing

On April 28, President Trump signed an Executive Order (Order) invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA or the Act). That order recognizes the challenges meat and poultry processing facilities face regarding reduced capacity and plant closures. The Order also specifically references interim guidance (Guidance) issued on April 26 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding meat and poultry processing.

Against that background, the Order provides that the Secretary of Agriculture "shall take all appropriate action ... to ensure that meat and poultry processors continue operations consistent with the guidance for their operations jointly issued by the CDC and OSHA."

 The Order "links" operations to the CDC/OSHA Guidance, prompting OSHA to post a Statement of Enforcement Policy (statement) and sending a strong signal about the importance of that Guidance. The statement referenced OSHA's April 13, 2020, enforcement guidance regarding enforcement discretion for employers following "appropriate guidance," and cited the Meat and Poultry Guidance.

OSHA stated meat and poultry companies "should conduct worksite assessments to identify COVID-19 risks and prevention strategies and then implement them" emphasizing adherence to the guidance. Importantly, the statement also recognized some measures may not be feasible for certain plants and in some circumstances. In those cases, plants should document why their facilities deviate from the guidance.

The statement provides that, if OSHA investigates a location, it will consider "good faith attempts" to follow the guidance and the agency "does not anticipate citing employers that adhere to the Joint Meat Processing Guidance." OSHA also sent a strong message saying that

no part of the Joint Meat Processing Guidance should be construed to indicate that state and local authorities may direct a meat and poultry processing facility to close, to remain closed, or to operate in accordance with procedures other than those provided for in this Guidance.

The statement also discussed litigation concerns, stating the following.

Where a meat, pork, or poultry processing employer operating pursuant to the President's invocation of the DPA has demonstrated good faith attempts to comply with the Joint Meat Processing Guidance and is sued for alleged workplace exposures, the Department of Labor will consider a request to participate in that litigation in support of the employer's compliance program. Likewise, the Department of Labor will consider similar requests by workers if their employer has not taken steps in good faith to follow the Joint Meat Processing Guidance.

Finally, the Order also authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to take action that may help prioritize the allocation of all the materials, services, and facilities necessary to ensure the continued supply of meat and poultry, consistent with the guidance for the operations of meat and poultry processing facilities jointly issued by the CDC and OSHA.

This language suggests the Secretary can exert additional influence regarding how personal protective equipment, testing resources, etc. might be made available. Because the DPA and the Order direct the Secretary to develop rules or orders to implement the Executive Order, until the Secretary takes that action, some specifics are unknown. Once published, which likely will occur soon, those rules or orders will be reviewed and summarized.

Bob Hibbert, along with his colleagues at Morgan, Lewis, and Bockius, will host a webinar regarding the DPA, the Executive Order, and related issues involving the Food Safety and Inspection Service and OSHA. That webinar will be on Tuesday, May 5 at 1 p.m. EDT. You can register for the webinar here.


Interim Guidance for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers

The Guidance for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers is much more extensive than other OSHA guidance documents so NAMI created a checklist to help meet the recommendations to the extent possible.

The Guidance is comprehensive, covering an array of topics, including how to conduct and create a COVID-19 assessment and control plan. The Guidance provides suggestions plants may want to consider implementing if they have not already done so, e.g., engineering controls such as modifying the alignment of workstations, including along processing lines, if feasible, erecting physical barriers, etc. The Guidance also discusses administrative controls such as encouraging single-file movement with a six-foot distance between each worker through the facility, where possible.

The Guidance discusses the personal protective Equipment (PPE) individuals should wear to control the spread of COVID-19 within establishments. Information on how to screen employees, manage ill employees, and allow people to return to work also is provided

Importantly, employers may permit workers exposed to COVID-19, but remain without symptoms, to continue to work, provided they adhere to additional safety precautions. The additional precautions are intended to protect them and the community.

OSHA also discussed training regarding the virus and prevention. Although in-person training may be difficult due to social distancing restrictions, the Guidance provides a free poster link. The agencies recommend placing simple posters in languages common in the worker population encouraging employees to stay home when sick. The posters also include cough and sneeze etiquette and proper hand hygiene practices. These posters should be placed at the entrance to the workplace and in break areas, locker rooms, and other workplace areas where they are likely to be seen. The Guidance includes a link to the posters in multiple languages.

CDC has free, simple posters available to download and print, some of which are translated into different languages. The Stop the Spread of Germs poster is available in AmharicArabicBurmeseDariFarsiFrenchHaitian CreoleKinyarwandaKarenKoreanNepaliPashtoPortugueseRussianSimplified ChineseSomaliSpanishSwahiliTigrynaUkrainian, and Vietnamese.

CDC and OSHA also have organized a conference call to discuss the Guidance on Friday, May 1 at 2 pm EST/1 pm CST/12 pm MST/ 11 am PST.Questions from industry are being submitted to the agencies today. To join the call, dial 888-324-9650 and use the participant passcode 6084751.


Agricultural Marketing Service Product Solicitation

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) released a Request for Proposal for the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Purchase Program on April 24. Under this program, AMS will procure an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products. Distributors will supply a pre-approved portfolio of fresh fruit and vegetables and dairy and meat products in a box to non-profit and governmental organizations with the capacity to distribute the boxes to individuals in need. Proposals must include several elements including: technical information on how their role will support American agriculture; performance ability; past performance including written references; and pricing information including the pricing for a specific product, delivery information and constraints. Examples of meat (pork and chicken) that may be included are pre-cooked chicken nuggets, pre-cooked bacon, pre-cooked pork patties, pork or chicken taco filling. AMS will award contracts with regionally located distributors in seven U.S. regions with the goal of targeted coverage within the United States. The Request for Proposal and other applicable attachments, including an informational webinar with technical details, can be found here. Proposals are due to AMS by 1 p.m. EDT on May 1.


Updated USDA and FDA Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Positive Tests and Social Distancing

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted answers to their frequently asked questions website regarding how establishments may react when an employee tests positive and social distancing in food processing facilities. Those answers can be found here and here.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration Guidance

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued two new guidance documents, one focused on recording cases regarding COVID-19 and the other outlining an Interim Enforcement Response Plan.

OSHA's Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 provides that COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19, if: (1) the case is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); (2) the case is work-related; and (3) the case involves one or more of the general recording criteria. The Guidance also provides

Until further notice, however, OSHA will not ... require other employers to make the same work-relatedness determinations, except where:

  1. There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related. This could include, for example, several cases developing among workers who work closely together without an alternative explanation; and
  2. The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. For purposes of this memorandum, examples of reasonably available evidence include information given to the employer by employees, and information that an employer learns regarding its employees' health and safety in the ordinary course of managing its business and employees. (Emphasis added)

OSHA also published interim enforcement response plan guidance, which emphasized employees have the right to complain about possible COVID-19 exposure and provides guidelines on how OSHA should respond to a complaint. Key points in the guidelines are that

In most cases, Area Offices should process complaints from non-healthcare and non-emergency response establishments as "non-formal phone/fax," following the non-formal complaint and referral procedures....

The plan also provides guidance on record keeping.

If an employer is not immediately aware of a reportable fatality, in-patient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye that was the result of a work-related incident, a report to OSHA must be made within the following time period after the employer or its agent(s) learns that the reportable event was the result of a work-related incident: Eight (8) hours for a fatality, and twenty-four (24) hours for an inpatient hospitalization, an amputation, or a loss of an eye. Employers must report a fatality if it occurs within 30 days of the work-related incident.

Illinois Worker's Compensation Rule

The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission adopted an emergency rule that establishes a rebuttable presumption that the workplace is the cause if a first responder or "front-line worker" becomes infected with COVID-19. A front-line worker includes workers in "Food, beverage, and cannabis production and agriculture."


CDC Guidance; Face Coverings (Masks); Employee Screening; Positive Test Result Protocol

Centers for Disease Control Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Workers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an updated document, Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19. The guidance provides that

To ensure continuity of operations of essential functions, CDC advises that critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional precautions are implemented to protect them and the community. A potential exposure means being a household contact or having close contact within 6 feet of an individual with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The timeframe for having contact with an individual includes the period of time of 48 hours before the individual became symptomatic.

The precautions include the following.

Pre-Screen. Employers should measure the employee's temperature and assess symptoms before starting work. Ideally, temperature checks should happen before the person enters the facility.
Regular Monitoring. As long as the employee does not have a temperature or symptoms, he or she should self-monitor under the supervision of the employer's occupational health program.
Wear a Mask. The employee should wear a face mask at all times while in the workplace for 14 days after last exposure. Employers can issue facemasks or can approve employee supplied cloth face coverings if shortages occur.
Social Distance. The employee should maintain 6 feet and practice social distancing as work duties permit in the workplace.
Disinfect and Clean Work Spaces. Clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment routinely.

Because of this updated guidance, companies may want to review the questionnaires they use as part of their screening process. The CDC guidance can be found here.

Face Coverings and Masks

In early April, the CDC also issued new recommendations regarding using face coverings. A video regarding mask use can be viewed here. The Food and Beverage Issue Alliance (FBIA) created a document, the Proper Usage of Face Masks/Coverings to Protect Against COVID-19, which can be found here. A CDC video on how to make a face covering can be found here.

In response to the CDC recommendation, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the Frequently Asked Questions and Answers food safety sections on their respective coronavirus websites. The new FSIS question and answer regarding wearing a face covering is below.  

Q: Should employees in food production settings wear face coverings to prevent exposure to COVID-19?

A: On Friday, April 3rd, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an updated recommendation on the use of cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. CDC is recommending the voluntary use of cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Per the CDC, the purpose of wearing a face covering is to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus from individuals who may be infected, but are not showing symptoms.

CDC recommends that face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

NOTE: The cloth face coverings recommended by CDC are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Likewise, FDA updated its FAQs to include a face covering response.

Should employees in retail foodservice and food production settings wear face coverings to prevent exposure to COVID-19?

On April 3, the CDC released an updated recommendation regarding the use of cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. ... For workers on farms, and in food production, processing, and retail settings who do not typically wear masks as part of their jobs, consider the following if you choose to use a cloth face covering to slow the spread of COVID-19:


Food Industry Recommended Protocols: Employee Screening; Distancing; Positive Test Result

Employee Screening

Some local jurisdictions are mandating companies screen employees, e.g., taking temperatures before they enter a worksite. A temperature taking protocol has been developed and can be found here. In addition, a coalition of food industry associations created a broader document regarding legal and other considerations of screening.

Employee Distancing

Virtually all state and local directives or orders require social distancing, even in the workplace, to the extent possible. Several documents have been developed to provide guidance regarding how employers can maximize the opportunities for distancing in plants. That document can be found here. In addition, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued guidance for Canadian meat processing facilities regarding procedures CFIA expects to see if a company employee tests positive. The document, which can be found here, includes Annex that also has suggestions for measures companies can take to assist social distancing.

Employee Positive Test Result Protocol

Companies need to plan and prepare for the likely circumstance in which an employee, or visitor, shows symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive for the virus. A collection of food industry organizations, working with several federal agencies, developed protocols for food companies to follow if an employee or visitor tests positive. The objective of the protocols is avoiding or limiting business interruption at facilities that are part of a critical industry, food processing. Updated protocols can be found here. The protocols can also be found at this website.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted risk assessment guidance that may be helpful in such a circumstance and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its coronavirus website to provide answers to questions, including social distancing in food facilities. In addition, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) provided updated guidance that allows companies to ask questions and take inspectors' temperatures.

NAMI also created a portal in which members are sharing actions and practices they are taking to protect employees' health regarding COVID-19, including how to maximize social distancing in plants to the extent possible, reconfiguring cafeterias and other, similar places, screening employees, among other best practices. That information can be found here. If you have practices or protocols to share please send them to me, japotts@meatinstitute.org, or Mark Dopp, mdopp@meatinstitute.org.


Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Information

Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. A summary prepared by NAMI staff is here. In addition, the National Association of Manufacturers summarized the bill here and created and frequently asked questions document found here.


Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) went into effect on April 1, 2020 and the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) published a temporary rule that day. The FFCRA applies to a private entity or individual that employs fewer than 500 employees and requires them to pay up to 12 weeks of emergency paid sick leave or emergency paid family medical leave if one of six conditions relating to COVID-19 exist. FFCRA applies if the employee:

  1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19; [Because the food industry is a critical infrastructure industry, food industry employees generally may travel notwithstanding shelter in residence orders or directives.]
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
  3. is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. is caring for an individual subject to an order as described in (1), or who has been advised as described in (2);
  5. is caring for his or her son or daughter whose school or place of care has been closed or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
  6. is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

The rule explains how employers determine who counts as an employee toward the 500-employee threshold. An employer should include full-time and part-time employees, employees on leave, temporary employees jointly employed by the employer and another employer, and day laborers supplied by a temporary placement agency. Independent contractors that provide services for an employer do not count toward the 500-employee threshold. Nor do employees count who have been laid off or furloughed and have not been reemployed. See 29 CFR 826.40. In addition, employees must be employed within the United States. The preamble provided the following example - "if an employer employs 1,000 employees in North America, but only 250 are employed in a U.S. State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States, that employer will be considered to have 250 employees and is thus subject to the FFCRA." WHD also posted updated versions of a Fact Sheet for Employers, a Fact Sheet for Employees, and a Questions and Answers document.


Carbon Dioxide Use and Availability

Concerns have been raised about the availability of carbon dioxide for purposes of chilling, freezing, and controlled atmosphere stunning in establishments. Carbon dioxide is captured and purified for the food and beverage industries. The Meat Institute is trying to address any possible shortage in a number of ways, including participating in a coalition led by the Compressed Gas Association. On April 7, 2020, the coalition submitted a letter requesting temporary federal assistance for CO2 manufacturers to help address any shortages that may occur. Since that letter was sent, Meat Institute staff has been in constant contact with USDA about the issue, and continues to gather information to help inform its members and the agency.


Testing and Personal Protective Equipment Resources

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) compiled a list of companies that may supply personal protective equipment, disinfectants, and sanitation supply needs for the Food and Agriculture Sector. The USDA/FEMA information can be found here. In addition, NAMI created a supplemental list of companies to include NAMI members and that information can be searched and found here . Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement of the manufacturer.

The Meat Institute will update the supplemental list with other testing and personal protective equipment resources as they become available. If you have testing or PPE resources to share, please send them to Anne Halal at AHalal@meatinstitute.org.


Food Safety and Inspection Service Labeling Discretion

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic, adverse effect on the foodservice sector. Conversely, demand for meat and poultry in grocery stores is at all-time highs. NAMI staff have been discussing with FSIS officials' options that allow products labeled appropriately for foodservice to be diverted to retail sale. Attached is a memorandum discussing options companies may want to consider if they wish to redirect product from foodservice to retail. On Monday, March 23, FSIS issued a special constituent update and issued a follow-up on March 27, which extended the agency's regulatory discretion and allows the "deviations" discussed in the March 23 alert to apply not only to products made by March 23, but also to products produced during the following 60 day temporary allowance (the window).

Through discussions between Meat Institute staff and the Labeling and Program Delivery Staff, several additional temporary allowances have been identified.

FSIS regulations in 9 CFR 317.400(a)(1) and 381.500(a)(1) allow companies meeting the small business criteria to label ground meat and poultry with a percent lean and percent fat statement without adding nutrition facts panel provided no other nutrient content claims are made. During the window, companies not meeting the small business exemption may use this labeling exemption.
Products bearing a "keep refrigerated" handling statement may be frozen to extend product shelf life. These products, if produced before or during the window, may be sold to retail customers or to the originally intended foodservice customers, without "correcting" the handling statement to reflect that the product had been frozen. Such products must be frozen within the window. This allowance is not applicable if the products bear statements that would conflict with the fact the product had been frozen, (e.g., a claim of fresh, never frozen on the label, etc.). The Labeling staff suggested adding stick on labels to the products to indicate the date the product was frozen, to avoid confusion with potentially conflicting use by, sell by, or best if used by, dating that may already be on the product. Doing so is not a requirement.
Other deviations from regulatory policy need to be submitted to FSIS for temporary approval consideration, e.g., labels intended for export only that have deviations from FSIS policy for domestic labeling, or ingredient changes necessitated by unforeseen disruption in supply lines that cause the ingredient statement to be inaccurate.

Many NAMI members also produce FDA regulated products. As with FSIS, FDA is providing temporary labeling relief regarding certain nutrition labeling requirements. Hogan Lovells summarized FDA's actions.


Antitrust Concerns

Every state has issued some form of emergency declaration and many states have instituted shelter in place orders. Although not every state has one and there is no comparable federal law, many states have enacted what are commonly known as "price gouging" statutes and those laws often are triggered by declaration or orders such as those being issued. NAMI's outside antitrust counsel has prepared a short memorandum providing background about these laws for your review. 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other Government Agency Information

The CDC updates it COVID-19 links regularly. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also has information and links, COVID-19, regarding hazard recognition, the OSHA standards that apply regarding protecting workers from COVID-19, among others. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, employers can and should advise other employees of possible workplace exposure; however, infected employees must not be identified by name and medical information must be kept confidential. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has information regarding disinfectants to use regarding COVID-19. 

The Department of Homeland Security has a pandemic planning resources page. Likewise, the World Health Organization provides a Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response manual. Johns Hopkins University has a coronavirus resource center that includes a map with information regarding the outbreak. 


Labor and Employment Information Sources

Companies also should know their rights and the rights of their employees under the labor laws. Below are links to information prepared by law firms addressing issues for companies to consider regarding COVID-19. 


Archive


The Meat Institute will update these resources as needed. Please contact Mark Dopp at mdopp@meatinstitute.org with questions.