The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the US food supply and consumer behavior. Food production and processing are being disrupted as illnesses, proactive quarantines, and government-mandated movement restrictions cause labor shortages. In this environment, the food industry has been required to adopt new, additional practices to minimize the risk of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks among its workforce. Successfully overcoming these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that addresses COVID-19 transmission both within and outside the facility; possible interventions include strategies to (i) vaccinate employees, (ii) assure that employees practice social distancing, (iii) assure that employees wear face coverings, (iv) screen employees for COVID-19 (v) assure that employees practice frequent handwashing and avoid touching their faces, (vi) clean frequently touched surfaces, and (vii) assure proper ventilation. Compliance with these control strategies needs to be verified and an overall “COVID-19 control culture” needs to be established to facilitate an effective program. Despite some public misperceptions about SARS-CoV-2 presence on foods or food packaging representing a public health risk, it is important to note that both the virus’ biology and epidemiological data clearly support a negligible risk of COVID-19 transmission through food and food packing. However, COVID-19 pandemic related supply chain and workforce disruptions, as well as the shift in resources to protect food industry employees from COVID-19 may increase the actual food safety risks. The goal of this paper is to review the COVID-19 mitigation practices adopted by the food industry, and the potential impact of these practices and COVID-19 related disruptions on the industry’s food safety mission. A review of these impacts is necessary to ensure that the food industry is prepared to maintain a safe and nutritious food supply in the face of future global disruptions.

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