We have received multiple questions today regarding the CDC recommendation for use of face coverings. The following is the guidance provided by FDA on their COVID-19 Food Safety Page found here https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/food-safety-and-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19 [fda.gov]
On April 3, the CDC released an updated recommendation [cdc.gov] regarding the use of cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. CDC recommends the use of simple cloth face coverings as a voluntary public health measure in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).
For workers on farms, and in food production, processing, and retail settings who do not typically wear masks as part of their jobs, consider the following if you choose to use a cloth face covering to slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Maintain face coverings in accordance with parameters in FDA’s Model Food Code [fda.gov] sections 4-801.11 Clean Linens and 4.802.11 Specifications.
- Launder reusable face coverings before each daily use.
- CDC also has additional information on the use of face coverings [cdc.gov], including washing instructions and information on how to make homemade face covers.
NOTE: The cloth face coverings recommended by CDC are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
The state supports these recommendations being made by FDA and CDC. If environmental health specialists in the field are unable to maintain social distancing, the same recommendations per CDC and FDA would apply, including properly wearing and laundering cloth face covers. Also, when doing field work and visits, it should be noted that additional hand to face contact might be occurring by food employees wearing masks. Make sure to assess and correct potential hand contamination among food workers. Please let me know if there are additional questions or concerns.
Veronica Bryant, REHS
Emergency Preparedness and Outbreak Coordinator
Division of Public Health, Environmental Health Section
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
5605 Six Forks Road
1632 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1632