The FDA, today, 31 March 2020, hosted a teleconference with/for pet food manufacturers. Below is a summary of the call for those who were unable to join. When the link to the recorded call becomes available, this post will be updated.
From the Director of CVM (Center for Veterinary Medicine) – Steven Solomon.
- FDA is committed to health of the American people.
- This includes ensuring for the safety of the animal food supply.
- The Secretary of HHS (Health and Human Services) declared COVID-19 a national emergency.
- CVM is part of the incident management group related to the national emergency and COVID-19.
- CVM’s role includes coordination between state and local governments.
- Center for Applied Food Safety works with industry to identify feed ingredient shortages and provide guidance on worker health.
- The goal of CVM is to ensure the animal sector is supported.
- This is a collaborative effort as the situation is constantly evolving.
The FDA has allowed for relaxation of the veterinary client patient relationship (VCPR) rules which not only impacts care of companion animals, but the livestock sector. It is, however, up to the individual states how they will implement the relaxation of the VCPR rules.
Mission critical work at the FDA continues.
The FDA has received numerous calls regarding concerns about shortages in disinfectants, ingredients, and transportation – see discussion below.
Tim Schell, Director of Surveillance and Compliance.
- The department is dedicated to a safe, undisrupted food supply.
- There is no evidence that COVID-19 transmits via food.
- Contaminated food or packaging is a public concern but the evidence does not support this fear, even if an animal worker gets sick.
- There is no nationwide disruption in the supply chain.
- FDA is looking for input from manufacturers should there be a shortage.
- Empty aisles are due to over demand.
- No need for the consumer to horde either people food or pet food.
Jenny Murphy. Deputy Director for Foods.
- Every human and animal needs to eat.
- Food continues to be safe and available.
- The Department of Homeland Security has listed animal food as critical.
- Their memorandum of essential workers lists animal food workers as critical – see cisa.gov for the list.
- In many cases, employees are receiving letters from their bosses declaring the workers are essential.
- Health and safety of animal facility workers is critical.
- The FDA cares deeply.
- GMPs (good manufacturing practices) should account for workers’ concerns.
- Use EPA registered anti-viral products. If you can’t do social distancing at work, be safe and sanitary.
- If a worker tests positive, OSHA has guidance.
- Most important is to follow your local cleaning protocols confidentiality.
- No need to conduct environmental COVID-19 testing – that’s not how it transmits. Just need to clean.
- No recalls of animal or human food for COVID-19 expected because that is not how the virus transmits.
Michael Rogers. In charge of foreign and domestic inspections from the Office of Regulatory Affairs.
- Recent statements by the head of the FDA, Steven Hahn, are posted on the FDA website.
- The FDA has postponed routine inspections.
- They are only focusing on mission critical inspections provided they can be accomplished safely. (They have been doing it – as evidenced by the recalls still being published.)
- The FDA/CVM will continue to follow up on Class I recalls and pet food recalls where humans have become ill from the pet food.
- The FDA makes their recommendations for states under the FDA contract process. Some state work is unrelated to FDA work – this may continue at the discretion of each state.
- The FDA will conduct enhanced remote validation of food facilities to validate the facilities are doing what they say. For now, routine inspections will be pre-announced unlike the usual surprise and scramble situation.
- “We’re all in this together.”
The FDA/CVM food is safe with our combined efforts according to Dr Solomon. FDA devoting significant resources to COVID-19. But still doing their normal jobs.