Covid-19

Collaboration is at the heart of the Alaska seafood industry. Amid the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, ASMI is helping our industry navigate these uncharted waters by working with global health experts, state and local officials and Alaska seafood economists to provide the up-to-date resources and information


Food Safety and COVID-19

10 September 2020

Leading public health and food safety organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) continue to affirm that there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 is spread through food, food containers, or food packaging. These science-based findings, combined with the Alaska seafood industry’s adherence to the highest food safety and hygiene standards, provide confidence that Alaska seafood is safe to eat and can be enjoyed without concern.

The Alaska seafood industry’s number one priority is the health and safety of all. Seafood industry members – from fishermen, to processors to fisheries managers — are working tirelessly in collaboration with community leaders, public health officials, medical experts and state and local governments to implement extensive protocols ensuring the health and safety of Alaska’s fishing communities and Alaska seafood workforce, so that this ‘essential critical infrastructure’ service can continue to safely supply sustainably-harvested food for Alaskans, Americans and the world.

The following information is intended to be used as a basis for communication with external stakeholders about COVID-19 and the Alaska seafood industry. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is the lead agency for the US government on the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, and is the primary source of guidance regarding the spread of the virus. This and other information on health and preparedness recommendations can be found on the CDC website at or at the FDA website.

Click here for ASMI’s current statement on Food Safety and COVID-19.

Food Safety Facts

Can the virus be spread through food?

  • The CDC, FDA, WHO and the European Food Safety Authority continue to affirm that there are no confirmed cases of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Alaska seafood is safe to eat and can be enjoyed without concern. 
  • Currently, there is no evidence that food is associated with transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 (CDC).
  • There is no evidence of the virus spreading to consumers through food or packaging potentially handled by that workers that tested positive for COVID-19 in food production and processing facilities (CDC).
  • Alaska seafood is a healthy source of essential vitamins and nutrients and eating Alaska seafood supports a healthy immune system.
  • The virus that causes COVID-19 cannot grow on food. However, everyone is encouraged to follow proper food safety protocols, including safely handling seafood and washing your hands before consuming food (CDC). 

Straight from the Experts

Food Safety:

Despite the many billions of meals consumed and food packages handled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to date there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging or food handling is a source or important transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 resulting in COVID-19.”

“Considering that there are to date, no proven cases or scientific associations between food consumption and COVID-19, it is highly unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 constitutes a food safety risk.”

“SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted from person-to-person over close distances via droplets/aerosols from the nose and/or mouth.”

SARS-CoV-2 should not be considered a food safety hazard since a true food safety hazard enters the human body with food via the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract, where it can infect organs/tissues elsewhere in the human body.

ICMSF Opinion on SARS-CoV-2 and its relationship to food safety, released Sept 3, 2020

“The United States understands the concerns of consumers here domestically and around the world who want to know that producers, processors and regulators are taking every necessary precaution to prioritize food safety especially during these challenging times. However, efforts by some countries to restrict global food exports related to COVID-19 transmission are not consistent with the known science of transmission.”

There is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging. The U.S. food safety system, overseen by our agencies, is the global leader in ensuring the safety of our food products, including product for export.”

USDA and FDA joint statement released June 24, 2020

The above statements are consistent with findings from both the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Trade:

“U.S. exporters of FDA-regulated food products are responsible for following U.S. laws and regulations and following the requirements of the countries to which they export. FDA food safety requirements are robust and ensure that food produced for both domestic consumption and export is safe. The FDA is also communicating its understanding of the science related to COVID-19 transmission and food safety to foreign governments.” Read More

FDA guidance for seafood exporters regarding recent requests for commitments on food safety related to COVID-19, released July 29, 2020

About Alaska Seafood Processing

Alaska seafood processors have in place the highest food safety and sanitation standards required by the federal government. Alaska processors also voluntarily apply additional strict protocols to implement industrial food safety best practices designed to protect against pathogens. Alaska’s processing facilities are audited annually regarding these food safety measures by state and federal authorities.

As part of each plant’s required preparedness plans, there are contingency mechanisms in place to deal with human disease outbreaks and other externalities so as to protect the health and safety of both employees and the public and guard against threats that could cause a disruption to plant and processing activities. Human health and food safety are always the priority.

Alaska seafood processors adhere to the following food safety and sanitation standards designed to protect against pathogens:

Food and Drug Administration current Good Manufacturing Practices

In Alaska’s seafood processing facilities, the required Food and Drug Administration current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) address concerns pertaining to the design, maintenance and sanitation of a facility as well as personal hygiene and disease control for plant workers.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)

Processors of seafood and seafood products are required by the FDA to address food safety by following a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) prevention system. HACCP identifies food safety hazards, creates controls to prevent hazards, and then monitors those controls within a seafood processing facility.

Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) are detailed procedures followed by Alaska’s seafood processors specifying what to clean, how to clean, how often to clean, and the records used for monitoring. SSOPs are plant specific.


Additional Resources for Industry

FOR FOODSERVICE/RETAIL

Preparation Resources:

Action Plan Resources:

Latest updates:

Talking points:

  • Talking points for foodservice staff and takeout customers, and FAQs regarding the safety and importance of including seafood in a healthy diet – National Fisheries Institute (NFI)

FOR ALASKA SEAFOOD INDUSTRY

Preparation Resources:

Action plan resources:

Latest Updates:

Other Resources:

FOR ALASKA FISHERMEN

FOR DIRECT MARKETERS

Preparation Resources:

Action plan resources: 

Latest Updates:

Other resources: 

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