NEWS: Revised FAO Guidance for preventing the transmission of COVID-19

News from AAFC Market Access Secretariat

We are sharing for your awareness that on August 2, 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) updated their guidance document entitled, “COVID-19: Guidance for preventing transmission of COVID-19 within food businesses” (, originally published on April 7, 2020. Canada, along with other trading partners, had been requesting the FAO guidance be updated over the past year to reflect that COVID-19 is a public health concern and not a food safety concern.

The purpose of the revised FAO publication is to highlight the measures needed to control COVID-19 in food operations while protecting both employees and the food supply chain.

As part of the revisions, the FAO/WHO has updated the guidance document to better reflect that COVID-19 is not a direct food safety concern. The first sentence of the revised guidance states “Current data indicates that neither food nor food packaging is a pathway for the spread of viruses causing respiratory illnesses, including SARS-CoV-2.” As well, the FAO/WHO is not recommending environmental sampling and testing for COVID-19 in food processing facilities or on food.

Additional revisions to the guidance include measures that food businesses can take to protect workers from person-to-person spread of COVID-19 in primary production, food processing, transport, and at the retail level, including shops, restaurants and other food outlets, such as erecting barriers between workstations, increasing air exchange, staggering break times, providing visible notices and training to promote measures, and increase sanitation. Finally, the FAO/WHO encourages all food workers to become vaccinated as it has been proven to be effective to lower the severity of COVID-19 and reduce the risk of transmission.