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COVID-19: Produce Safety and Quality Implications

Can fresh produce transmit the COVID-19 Virus? 

There is no evidence that fresh produce (or any other food, or other product/material) can transmit the virus. FDA’s Frank Yiannas directly addresses this in a post, and there is a food-specific FDA page that has additional detail.

HOW DOES COVID-19 IMPACT PACA, INSPECTIONS AND OTHER SERVICES PROVIDED BY USDA’S AGRICULTURE MARKETING SERVICES? 

USDA AMS has sent a message to their customers outlining that they will continue to provide some services to companies that do business with AMS. They also sent a letter of commitment to industry partners.

USDA AMS Letter

However, on 3/31 USDA AMS indicated that in some cases, such as for Harmonized GAP audits conducted by USDA AMS, domestic origin verification, and plant systems audit certifications, certificates may be extended by 60 days.

ARE FDA/ FSMA – RELATED INSPECTIONS AFFECTED? ARE 3RD PARTY AUDITS NEEDED TO COMPLY WITH FDA FOOD SAFETY RULES?

Yes. FDA has announced that companies (FSVP importers or “receiving facilities” as defined in the Preventive Controls Rule) will not be penalized if they are unable to conduct 3rd party audits in support of their supply chain control/ FSVP programs due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Additionally, FDA is temporarily suspending most foreign facility inspections, and many domestic inspections, unless they are mission critical (e.g., related to an outbreak or Class 1 recall). Further, inspections may be pre-announced.  The agency is also considering alternative ways to perform inspections.