WASHINGTON — The American Bakers Association is partnering with more than 60 food and beverage groups to let customers and consumers know the American food supply is safe and abundant, even during the unprecedented events and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The groups are working with all levels of the government in getting the message out.
“The US food supply remains among the safest in the world,” said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the Washington-based ABA. “Existing regulations, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and Federal Meat and Poultry Act guide food companies and food and agriculture infrastructure, which are critical during regular ‘ordinary business’ and during times of uncertainty.”
To recognize the efforts of the food and beverage industry, the ABA and the Food and Beverage Issue Alliance (FBIA) will use a shared hashtag — #FeedingUS — and invite all groups and companies in the food sector to do the same. The baking industry will use the #BakingStrong hashtag to recognize the nearly 800,000 skilled men and women working in the baking industry.
“The unsung heroes who deserve to be celebrated are the approximately 45.5 million people working throughout the food and beverage industry,” Mr. MacKie said. “They are working tireless and safely, today and always, to feed the country and the world. We cannot thank them enough.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, does not consider COVID-19 to be a foodborne illness. Even so, as a preventative measure, many food companies are increasing the levels of sanitation and ordinary food safety testing beyond what is required by law or any regulatory guideline during this pandemic.
“Recent empty shelves are a result of ‘pantry stocking and preparedness,’ and it is advisable to prepare for a week of food supplies, versus a month,” Mr. MacKie said. “Despite the surge and because of the strength of the United States’ food system, the supply chain remains solid, and transportation is moving food to consumers as quickly and safely as possible.”
The food and agriculture sector is designated as a critical infrastructure sector that provides essential services.
The FBIA plans to convene a committee of food science, food microbiology, food safety and risk assessment experts to seek scientific and technical counsel regarding food-related questions. The FBIA also will create “clear, consistent and accurate” messaging related to the safety of the US food supply during the COVID-19 outbreak. Materials, messages and templates will be distributed.
Food and beverage associations should share information among each other to create consistent and accurate messaging, according to the FBIA. Examples are fact sheets, social media copy and infographics. Information should be distributed to federal agencies, governors, the White House and the public. Media outlets and social media influencers should be contacted to help spread the message of food safety, according to the FBIA, and responses for media stories/coverage should be science-based messaging.