Tag Archives COVID-19

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a series of measures aimed at limiting advertising for foods high in salt, sugar and fat. The measures include a ban on ads for such foods before 9 p.m., the implementation of calorie counts on food menus and a ban on "buy one get one" deals on some types of foods. The government will also launch "a consultation to gather views and evidence on our current ‘traffic light’ labelling system to learn more about how this is being used by consumers and industry, compared to international examples." The announcement is a reversal from Johnson's previous stance on food advertising limits that he attributed to his diagnosis and recovery from COVID-19. "I've wanted to lose weight for ages and like many people I struggle with my weight," he wrote in The Daily Express. "I go up and down, but during the whole coronavirus epidemic and…

Europol and Interpol have announced the seizure of 320 additional tonnes of "counterfeit and substandard food and beverages" following an operation that involved 83 countries, bringing the operation's seizure total to about 12,000 tonnes. "This year’s operational activities have found a new disturbing trend to address: the infiltration of low-quality products into the supply chain, a development possibly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic," the press release notes. The operation, which focused on dairy foods, olive oil, alcohol and horse meat, also identified counterfeit cereals, grains and derived products as well as coffee, tea and condiments.

A group of workers at a Maid-Rite Specialty Foods production plant has filed a lawsuit seeking to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to require Maid-Rite to establish procedures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection. Does v. Scalia, No. 20-1260 (M.D. Penn., filed July 22, 2020). The plaintiffs allege that they face "imminent dangers posed by a workplace that has failed to take the most basic precautions to protect against the spread of COVID-19." The complaint asserts that Maid-Rite is "failing to provide cloth face coverings, configuring the production line in such a way that workers cannot social distance, failing to arrange for social distancing in other areas of the plant, failing to provide adequate handwashing opportunities, creating incentives for workers to attend work sick, failing to inform workers of potential exposures to COVID-19, and rotating-in workers from other facilities in a way that increases the risk…

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for hand sanitizer has increased exponentially. Manufacturers of much-needed hand sanitizers face a maze of regulatory rules and restrictions in every country in which their products will be sold. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has monitored hand sanitizers entering the market, and the agency has regularly updated its list of recalled hand sanitizer products, including many that have been sold at national retailers. In an infographic overview, Shook consumer products attorneys guide the producers of hand sanitizers and retailers through what they need to know to successfully make, label and sell their products in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Mexico. Learn the relevant details and questions to ask about each country’s requirements; guidance on product ingredients, product testing, labeling, promotion and distribution of hand sanitizers; and direct actions to take to ensure products get safely to market in full…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released the first print of the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which will be used to guide dietary recommendations. Changes include a reduced recommendation for the percentage of added sugars in an adult's diet and a section for children under two years old. The report also notes the effects of COVID-19 on its findings. "As more is learned about infection by SARS-Co V-2 and the development of COVID19, it is clear that it has significant nutritional implications. These parallel epidemics, one noninfectious ( obesity and diet-related chronic diseases) and one infectious (COVID-19), appear to be synergistic. Those at most risk for the most serious outcomes of COVID-19, including hospitalization and death, are people afflicted by diet-related chronic diseases (obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease). Finally, throughout the world, the…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it will resume domestic inspections of regulated facilities during the week of July 20, 2020, after pausing in March due to COVID-19. "To arm our investigators with the most reliable and accurate information, the FDA has developed a rating system to assist us in determining when and where it is safest to conduct prioritized domestic inspections," the agency states. "The COVID-19 Advisory Rating system (COVID-19 Advisory Level) uses real-time data to qualitatively assess the number of COVID-19 cases in a local area based on state and national data. We are also making the Advisory Level data available to our state partners who carry out inspections of FDA-regulated entities on the agency’s behalf under contract." The agency also announced that the inspections will be pre-announced. "The FDA has also determined that, for the foreseeable future, prioritized domestic inspections will be pre-announced…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a response to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's petition urging the agency to require meat and poultry processing plants to publish information about COVID-19 testing and infection rates at their facilities and to include on their product labels the statement "Warning: Workers in U.S. meat and poultry processing facilities have been sickened or killed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and this product has not been certified virus-free.” USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service states that it does not have the authority to require facilities to report on the health information of their workers. The agency's response further notes that the proposed warning statement "is misleading because it inaccurately implies that meat and poultry products that have not been 'certified as virus-free' may transmit COVID-19 or are somehow unsafe. As discussed above, public health and food safety experts have found no evidence to…

By Shook Associate Matt Williams California often serves as an incubator for litigation that thereafter sweeps across the country. This phenomenon may hold true for newly minted COVID-19-based price-gouging lawsuits. Indeed, California has quickly become the epicenter of price-gouging enforcement and class action litigation. Food producers, distributors, retailers and online marketplaces such as Amazon have become the targets of price-gouging actions. Importantly, there is currently no federal price-gouging law, meaning that companies must navigate 50 different state laws. California’s price-gouging statute provides that “consumer food items or goods” cannot be sold for 10% more than the price advertised immediately before a declared state of emergency. The statute provides an exception for price increases if the seller can prove it was “directly attributable” to costs imposed by up-chain suppliers or increases in labor and material costs during the emergency. Violations are prosecuted by the California Attorney General and local district attorneys,…

The European Commission has announced the adoption of strategies to support biodiversity and “transition to a sustainable EU food system that safeguards food security and ensures access to healthy diets sourced from a healthy planet.” “The coronavirus crisis has underlined the importance of a robust and resilient food system that functions in all circumstances, and is capable of ensuring access to a sufficient supply of affordable food for citizens,” a question-and-answer resource on the program stated. “It has also made us acutely aware of the interrelations between our health, ecosystems, supply chains, consumption patterns and planetary boundaries.” The program’s goals include reduction of chemical pesticides, preservation of soil nutrients, reduction in sales of antimicrobials for farmed animals and aquaculture, and an increase in organic farming by 2030. The program will also include the proposal of mandatory front-of-packaging nutrition labeling and efforts to reduce food waste.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has introduced The Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive Act of 2020 (RESTAURANTS Act). The proposed bill would create a $120 billion “restaurant stabilization grant program designed to help independent restaurants deal with the long-term structural challenges facing the industry due to COVID-19 and ensure they can reemploy 11 million workers,” according to Blumenauer’s May 20, 2020, press release. The program, which would be administered by the Department of the Treasury, would provide grants sufficient "to cover the difference between revenues from 2019 and projected revenues through 2020, with a maximum grant of $10 million.”

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