Partners Michael Annis and Ryann Glenn of Husch Blackwell’s Food & Agribusiness industry team were recently featured over at Meat + Poultry discussing the broad effects of COVID-19 on the meat processing industry, including the potential impact of the Safe to Work Act currently being considered in the U.S. Congress.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a checklist to assist human and animal food operations during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The checklist is useful for persons growing, harvesting, packing, manufacturing, processing or holding human and animal food regulated by FDA when assessing or restarting operations during the pandemic.

The first section of the checklist focuses on employee health and social distancing, which includes considerations for employee wellbeing, employee screening, and operation configuration for social distancing to prevent or minimize the spread of COVID-19. The second section of the checklist focuses on food safety, which includes considerations when restarting operations after a shutdown, and reassessing operations to make changes due to COVID-19 such as changes to personnel, suppliers, and incoming ingredients, on food safety or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan, as well as current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs).

The guidance document incorporates many of the other resources already developed by FDA, OSHA, and the Center for Disease Control for food and agricultural operations to consider during the COVID-19 pandemic:

It is important to note that the checklist is not an OSHA standard that establishes a basis for a fine or liability under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.  However, OSHA and states operating under OSHA-recognized state plans have cited employers in the food sector under the General Duty Clause, which requires employers to maintain workplaces free of recognized hazards. The checklist is a useful resource for food operations to ensure its COVID-19 policies and procedures meet these obligations.

Contact Us

We will continue to monitor developments related to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the food and agricultural sector. Should you have any questions regarding this alert, contact your Husch Blackwell attorney Avi Meyerstein, Seth Mailhot, or Emily Lyons.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule, effective October 13, 2020, to establish compliance requirements for fermented and hydrolyzed foods, or foods that contain fermented or hydrolyzed ingredients, and that are labeled “gluten-free.” Continue Reading FDA Finalizes Rule Related to Gluten-Free Labeling for Foods Containing Fermented or Hydrolyzed Ingredients

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has proposed to amend the organic regulations to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products. This is one of the largest overhauls since the National Organic Program (NOP) was established. Continue Reading USDA’s Proposed Rules on Organic Enforcement

Husch Blackwell’s Emily Lyons and Mike Annis will present “Green Rush: Making and Marketing Pet Foods and Treats with CBD” at the virtual Petfood Forum CONNECT conference on Thursday September 17 at 9 am (CDT.) Emily recently spoke with Tim Wall, Senior Reporter for Petfood Industy, to preview the discussion here. Continue Reading Green Rush: Making and Marketing Pet Foods and Treats with CBD

Have you ever heard the term, “smells like money”?  Under the ever-changing economic landscape affecting farmers throughout the country, many are looking to diversify their agricultural operation from an exclusive row-crop operation to include livestock production.  Continue Reading From Corn to Cattle: Under Right-to-Farm Act Laws, Farmers May Have Flexibility to Diversify and Expand Their Farming Operation

On August 4, 2020, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) proposed to amend the Proposition 65 regulations. Proposition 65, also known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires businesses to provide “clear and reasonable” warnings before knowingly and intentionally exposing Californians to listed chemicals. These warnings are required to appear on a wide range of products, including foods. Continue Reading California’s OEHHA Proposes Regulation Requiring Warning for Acrylamide in Food

On June 7, 2018, we blogged about the Fourth Circuit’s opinion reinstating challenges to North Carolina’s so-called “ag-gag” law. Such statutes are common. Their objective is to prevent undercover investigations of agricultural facilities designed to uncover and publicize abuse of animals. These statutes raise serious First Amendment issues and the courts have generally enjoined their enforcement, in whole or in part. Continue Reading North Carolina Ag-Gag Law Update

We have on several occasions, most recently on February 5, 2020, blogged about so-called “ag gag” laws, statutes designed to prevent undercover investigations of agricultural producers. Since that post, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas has dismissed plaintiffs’ challenge to the Arkansas statute for want of standing. Continue Reading Ag-Gag Law Update