COVID-19 Updates

SMA is diligently staying informed about the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Over the past few days, we are seeing this virus change livelihoods and businesses at a rapid pace.  SMA is staying in contact with FSIS officials and labor law professionals to assist our members in any way possible.  Below you will find documents that SMA sent electronically to members.

Are you in need on a Employee Travel Exemption Letter? Click here for a fillable template.


FSIS-Related Issues
    • Second Shifts- With many processors trying to ramp up production to meet the spike in retail/consumer demand for products, FSIS has indicated it will be a bit less rigid in consideration of granting second shifts, keeping in mind that limited inspection resources make it a challenge to ensure coverage. So, it will be a case by case basis.
    • Overtime Concerns- For establishments operating beyond 8 hours per shift, the agency still requires them to notify the agency that they are running past their normal hours. However, in a departure from past policy, we have been informed that establishments will not be charged overtime unless an inspector actually goes to the facility to provide inspection. Informally, we have been told that the agency may be flexible regarding deadlines for payment of overtime charges.

FAQs

FSIS has developed a set of extensive Q&As covering a lot of issues surrounding COVID-19. Interested parties can access the list HERE.

Q: What is the agency’s expectations if an establishment employee tests positive? Should agency in-plant personnel be notified?

A: We expect the plants to follow all CDC guidance or guidance from state or county health departments regarding how long the employee should remain away from the work site, and regarding potential exposure to other plant employees. We would like the plant to notify the supervisor if the plant has an onsite supervisor, or the FLS or DM/DDM. We don’t need the employee’s name or any personal information due to HIPPA concerns, but we would want to know the position the employee worked so we can determine how likely it is that FSIS personnel may have been exposed.

Q: If an employee (or more than one) are found to be positive, would the agency expect any actions pertaining to products produced in the establishment?

A: To my knowledge, the agency is not planning to take any regulatory control action on products because plant employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

Q: How might that affect the assignment of inspection resources at the establishment?

A: FSIS will continue to provide inspection for plants that are operating and producing amenable products. We do expect the plants to take actions to minimize viral transmission among their employees as well as to our inspection personnel. Anything we can do to assist with social distancing and good hygiene practices let us know.

Q: Can a county health department of state government shut down an FSIS-regulated plant?

A: Yes, and FSIS will follow state and local health department decisions.

Q: If providing child care-related paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave at my business with fewer than 50 employees would jeopardize the viability of my business as a going concern, how do I take advantage of the small business exemption?

A: To elect this small business exemption, you should document why your business with fewer than 50 employees meets the criteria set forth by the Department, which will be addressed in more detail in forthcoming regulations.


Resources

Labor Law

Food Industry Recommended Protocols When Employee/Customer Tests Positive for COVID-19 (March 22, 2020)

Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2020-1- Temporary Non-Enforcement Period Applicable to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (March 24, 2020)

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Q&As

Employee Rights- Families First Coronavirus Poster

Family First Coronavirus Response Act Summary by David Barron of Cozen O’Connor (Effective April 2, 2020)

New Federal Paid Sick Leave Law and What It Means For Employers by Joseph Quinn & Debra Friedman of Cozen O’Connor

COVID-19: Food Industry Update by John Dillard of OFW Law (March 19, 2020)

Coronavirus FAQs for Employers by Foley & Lardner LLP (updated March 6, 2020 and March 9, 2020)

Insight: Plan. Don’t Panic- 10 Things Employers Should Do To Deal With Coronavirus by

Food Safety by Mark J. Neuberger & Katelynn M. Williams of Foley & Lardner LLP (March 10, 2020)

Medical Inquiries and Examinations Related to Coronavirus by David Barron & Debra Steiner Friedman of Cozen O’Connor

Food Safety

COVID-19: Food Industry Update by John Dillard of OFW Law (March 27, 2020)

COVID-19: Food Industry Update by John Dillard of OFW Law (March 19, 2020)

Food Quality & Safety – Advises all levels of quality and safety decision makers in the food industry on strategic and tactical approaches required in a rapidly changing food quality and safety market.

      •  COVID-19 Update: Worker Health, Absenteeism Present Largest Risks to U.S. Food Supply Chain (March 15, 2020)
        • Discourage workers from coming to work sick by modifying illness policies;
        • Encourage remote work/telework options to draw as few personnel to offices as possible;
        • Monitor all employees and visitors coming to offices or production sites, and ask about potential exposure;
        • Ban all but critical business travel and ask employees whether they’ve travelled to risk areas and, if they have, request they remain home and self-monitor for 14 days;
        • Stagger shifts by creating A and B shifts to reduce the number of workers on site at one time;
        • Increase the frequency of cleaning common areas and document that the work was done, and setting plans to clean and sanitize workspaces of employees who may fall ill (making certain all Personal Protective Equipment required to do such cleaning/sanitizing is already available);
        • Encourage delivery people to keep a distance of six feet from others;
        • Ban all visitors to offices and production facilities; and
        • Contact state and local health authorities for guidance before any member of the team falls ill.
      •  Six Misconceptions about Sanitizing and Disinfecting in Food Service (March 6, 2020; by Ruth Petran PhD, CFS, and Christopher Steep, FSR)
Inspection Personnel

COVID-19: Food Industry Update by John Dillard of OFW Law (March 27, 2020)

USDA Guidance on COVID-19 Health Questionnaires by Dr. Philip Bronstein, Assistant Administrator USDA/FSIS (March 20, 2020)

Labeling

Retail Sale of Foods Labeled for Foodservice and Postponement of Compliance Date for Revised Nutrition/Supplement Facts Panel summarized by OFW Law

COVID-19: Food Industry Update by John Dillard of OFW Law (March 27, 2020)

FSIS Constituent Update- Temporary Allowances for Labels Going to Retail 

Transportation

U.S. Department of Transportation Emergency Declaration Concerning Shipment of Critical Goods During COVID-19 Outbreak by John Dillard of OFW Law (March 23, 2020)

FAQs Related to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Agency (FMCSA) Emergency Declaration (Updated March 19, 2020)

COVID-19: Food Industry Update by John Dillard of OFW Law (March 19, 2020)

Sanitation

List N: Disinfectants for Use Against COVID-19 by EPA (updated March 19, 2020)

Government Administration Efforts

All You Wanted To Know About Those Tax Stimulus Checks But Were Afraid To Ask

OFW Law Daily COVID-19 News Conference Summary (March 24, 2020)

OFW Law Second Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Broad Stakeholder Conference Call Summary (March 24, 2020)

Update on Administration Efforts on COVID-19 (March 24, 2020) summarized by OFW Law

OFW Law Daily COVID-19 News Conference Summary (March 23, 2020)

OFW Law Daily COVID-19 News Conference Summary (March 22, 2020)

OFW Law Daily COVID-19 News Conference Summary (March 21, 2020)

Update on Administration Efforts on COVID-19 (March 20, 2020) summarized by OFW Law

White House COVID-19 Update (March 20, 2020)  summarized by OFW Law

United States Trade Representative Response to Coronavirus Crisis (March 20, 2020) summarized by OFW Law

Additional Resources

President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America — 15 Days to Slow the Spread of Coronavirus

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue’s Video Message to Producers


Other Agencies/Entities

Center for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 information webpage

Department of Labor (DOL) COVID-19 information webpage

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) COVID-19 information webpage

United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) COVID-19 information webpage