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#1 lara_80

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 01:22 PM

I have gotten several requests for statements of our status with coronavirus:

 

We are reaching out to you today to request some information regarding the products we purchase from you. Given the current global effects of the Coronavirus, we want to ensure that the materials we are purchasing do not have any direct exposure to the affected areas of the globe. We would like to request a response in writing from your company confirming that our products are not directly affected.

 

Now, we bottle oils so I highly doubt there is a risk. But really this is a respiratory virus like the flu that needs a host to survive. I do not even understand what I am going to put in this letter "wash your hands".

 

 



#2 pHruit

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 05:27 PM

There is a general thread already going on coronavirus here: https://www.ifsqn.co...of-coronavirus/

Do you source any ingredients from areas that have been affected? Obviously that's increasingly difficult given that it is spreading, but if you can confidently say that you don't source from any such places then your statement is perhaps just a simple: "We can confirm that we do not source any materials from areas currently affected by coronavirus".

Otherwise it's perhaps a case of confirming that your products are produced in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practice, your raw materials are sourced from approved suppliers, and that to date there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmissible via food.



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#3 SQFconsultant

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Posted 29 February 2020 - 07:20 PM

Best statement from Phruit -- "We can confirm that we do not source any materials from areas currently affected by coronavirus"

 

Several of our clients are using a similar statement and those that have embraced our simple fortress plan are also directing their customers to our website to show their customer what steps they are taking at their own facilities.


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Glenn Oster
 
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#4 QAGB

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 04:30 PM

Hi all,

 

We've had inquiries like this too. As much as I'd like to have confidence enough to make a statement, I feel as though we should all be very cautious about providing one right now.

 

There are too many unknowns at this time to really make any generalized statements or guarantees that product can't or won't be affected. Scientists don't truly understand this virus. We're now even seeing cases of the virus in people that haven't come in known contact with another contagious person, so I'd show extreme caution.

 

Also, with each increasing hour, we are finding more and more locations with growing numbers of the virus. You could issue a statement today that says product isn't sourced from a location that has the virus, only to find out tomorrow the status has changed.

 

I know we all want guarantees, but when I think through this, I find it weird that other QA teams (who are supposed to be science minded and keeping up with the latest happenings) would ask for a guarantee or statement. We're all in the same boat, no one really understands it, and scientists are doing what they can to figure out the root of the virus and how it is spread.



#5 SQFconsultant

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 04:40 PM

Agreeing here with QAGB.

 

Many of our clients have received a letter asking for an assurance, etc.

 

We have suggested that in place of sending a note back about how the company is not sourcing from hot spots, etc - that instead they send them either their own plan to defend against CV at their place of business or they are referring people to our website if they are following this simple plan.

 

Whether real or not, most of the flat earth could be considered as having hot zones - thus a letter saying you are not sourcing from this or that area is fruitless.


Kind regards,
Glenn Oster
 
GOC Group | +1.800.793.7042 | Serving the Food, Food Packaging, DC, Restaurant & Hotel Industry 
SQF On-Site & Remote System Development, Implementation & Certification Consultants
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#6 IMRAN ALI

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 05:34 PM

Hi all,

 

Given the current global effects of the Coronavirus, having sourced any ingredients from areas that have been affected is a case of confirming to the end consumers that the products are produced in accordance with good manufacturing practice and that raw materials and related products are sourced from approved suppliers and those suppliers are with the statements that product can't or won't be affected due to their human resource scanning processess and material handling practices.



#7 The Food Scientist

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 06:15 PM

Hi all,

 

We've had inquiries like this too. As much as I'd like to have confidence enough to make a statement, I feel as though we should all be very cautious about providing one right now.

 

There are too many unknowns at this time to really make any generalized statements or guarantees that product can't or won't be affected. Scientists don't truly understand this virus. We're now even seeing cases of the virus in people that haven't come in known contact with another contagious person, so I'd show extreme caution.

 

Also, with each increasing hour, we are finding more and more locations with growing numbers of the virus. You could issue a statement today that says product isn't sourced from a location that has the virus, only to find out tomorrow the status has changed.

 

I know we all want guarantees, but when I think through this, I find it weird that other QA teams (who are supposed to be science minded and keeping up with the latest happenings) would ask for a guarantee or statement. We're all in the same boat, no one really understands it, and scientists are doing what they can to figure out the root of the virus and how it is spread.

 

Agreed. Unless you make a full accurate backward mock recall to make sure your source is not affected, you cant be 100% confident to make a statement. I know I won't. 


Everything in food is science. The only subjective part is when you eat it. - Alton Brown.


#8 pHruit

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 06:45 PM

Very good points, QAGB. As I mentioned in the other thread, I was a bit taken aback that one of our suppliers had gone out of their way to state that their process was sufficient, when there is currently an overwhelming scarcity of solid scientific data at present - hence my suggestion that any such statement is "no current evidence that...", rather than going the whole way with "it can't happen".  

I suppose there is a lot of panic and the default expectation in this industry is that QA/technical people are expected to deal in certainties*, whereas here no surety of any sort can really be given, irrespective of how much businesses and consumers would like that not to be the case...

 

*Obviously we pretty much never deal in certainties as in a large number of cases this is not a scientifically valid concept, but that's not always a popular interpretation ;)

 

 

Hi all,

 

Given the current global effects of the Coronavirus, having sourced any ingredients from areas that have been affected is a case of confirming to the end consumers that the products are produced in accordance with good manufacturing practice and that raw materials and related products are sourced from approved suppliers and those suppliers are with the statements that product can't or won't be affected due to their human resource scanning processess and material handling practices.

The problem as I see it is that none of us are in a position to be able to make such an assertion at present. By the time we've identified a staff member affected with the virus and excluded them from the factory, it's possibly already been transmitted to other people...

As for handling practices, at present there is no evidence of transmission via food, at least that I'm aware of, but this is alas not the same as actual scientific validation of this being the case.

 

It still remains the case that the vast majority of questions we're getting are focussing on continuity of supply, but we do now have customers also wanting confirmation that ingredients even from non-affected areas (the increasingly few that remain) is also not shipped through affected areas. This is going to become completely impractical quite quickly at the current rate though!



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#9 kettlecorn

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 07:30 PM

The problem as I see it is that none of us are in a position to be able to make such an assertion at present. By the time we've identified a staff member affected with the virus and excluded them from the factory, it's possibly already been transmitted to other people...

As for handling practices, at present there is no evidence of transmission via food, at least that I'm aware of, but this is alas not the same as actual scientific validation of this being the case.

 

It still remains the case that the vast majority of questions we're getting are focussing on continuity of supply, but we do now have customers also wanting confirmation that ingredients even from non-affected areas (the increasingly few that remain) is also not shipped through affected areas. This is going to become completely impractical quite quickly at the current rate though!

 

This is an especially good point considering that WHO just Friday warned that COVID-19 could reach most, if not all, countries in the world. Until more research is done into the modes of transmission of the virus, any sort of letter about affected areas and so forth isn't worth the paper it's written on except to declare that "we and our suppliers follow cGMPs" and "we require employees to stay home if they feel ill." 

 

The biggest issue, in my mind, continues to be supply chain and potential delay. Our company sources parts from China for equipment that we can't find elsewhere, and our 6 week lead time has shot to 18 or more. It's probably safe to assume that will only get worse. 



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#10 Hank Major

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 07:39 PM

They don't care about the virus, they are asking about supply-chain disruption.



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#11 BostonCream

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 07:43 PM

We should already have country of origin statement/proof for all ingredients that we buy from the supplier. I am not sure what is the point to ask for another COVID-19 exception letter from the supplier. Like QAQB said, things are changing every day and every hour, and none of us or the suppliers can say in a certainty. A risk analysis for our raw material/ingredients would be more reliable than a statement from the supplier IMO. Identify what's the COO of our ingredients, when was the delivery date if it's from an affected area (before or after Jan 2020?). 



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#12 SQFconsultant

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 07:45 PM

They don't care about the virus, they are asking about supply-chain disruption.

Agreed.


Kind regards,
Glenn Oster
 
GOC Group | +1.800.793.7042 | Serving the Food, Food Packaging, DC, Restaurant & Hotel Industry 
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GFSI (Broadscope) Certification Continuity eConsultants | EMF Consulting | Approved Supplier
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https://bit.ly/3dXaqfs

 

 


#13 kettlecorn

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 08:25 PM

They don't care about the virus, they are asking about supply-chain disruption.

 

Ultimately that is just as much of an unknown, at least long term. If current projections of 40 to 70 percent infection of the global population turn out to be accurate, then who is to say how badly this will affect the supply chain. As QABD said above, we're all in the same boat. 



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#14 kettlecorn

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Posted 02 March 2020 - 09:37 PM

And, in case not everyone has seen it, here is the FDA's recent update on supply chain. 

 

https://www.fda.gov/...ly-chain-update



#15 kettlecorn

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 05:03 AM

As QABD said above, we're all in the same boat. 

 

Also, apologies QAGB, for the typo. "G" and the "B" are close on the keyboard. I don't know where the "D" came from.   :ejut:



#16 QAGB

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 04:16 PM

Ultimately that is just as much of an unknown, at least long term. If current projections of 40 to 70 percent infection of the global population turn out to be accurate, then who is to say how badly this will affect the supply chain. As QABD said above, we're all in the same boat. 

 

Agreed. In my case, I'm getting inquiries on both. Some customers want to understand supply disruption, but I have seen others that really want to know the product they are getting is safe. Neither question can be answered realistically in my situation due to the country of origin of many of our materials and the unknowns of the virus right now. I can make assumptions based on what scientists are saying about how long the virus can live without a host, but at the same time, nothing is certain.

 

Also, no worries on the typo. It happens. :)


Edited by QAGB, 03 March 2020 - 04:17 PM.


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#17 CBMQA

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Posted 04 March 2020 - 07:49 PM

They don't care about the virus, they are asking about supply-chain disruption.

 

Main request has been around supply chain interruption and business continuity planning processes.

 

Our company provided a general statement to all customers outlining current known situation regarding virus (plus links to information sources), impacts on supply chain and reaffirmed our health and hygiene policies for both food-borne and other infectious conditions for all employees before adding information about business continuity plans without being overly specific due to the outbreak being very fluid with so many unknowns. 

 

We have provisions in place to help provide our customers with the continued products and services with minimal interruptions in the case of unforeseen emergencies such as the corona virus outbreak.

 

For all businesses the situation dealing with this type of outbreak is very fluid and we appreciate your understanding that at this point in time we cannot provide you with more detailed information as to what might or might not happen in relation to the supply of products to your company.

 

This is especially so under circumstances where the Australian Government could place restrictions or order lock down of businesses and people to help limit or contain the spread of COVID-19 at any point in time.

 

As a manufacturing business we are reliant on people being available and on site at our manufacturing facility therefore alternative business interruption measures such as teleworking will not be an effective mitigation strategy in our case.

 

In the case of significant restrictions to the movement of public and subsequent lock down of our business operations due to an escalation of the spread of the virus it may be possible production could be restricted for extended periods of time and delays to the shipment of the products we produce would occur.

 

Under these circumstances we will advise of any delays to orders and work with you as required to minimize the impacts to your business operations.

 

 

Like the old saying "Keep Calm and Carry On!"



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#18 mgourley

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Posted 04 March 2020 - 10:19 PM

They don't care about the virus, they are asking about supply-chain disruption.

These are the inquiries we have received. 

Our response is that we have multiple options for approved suppliers of "whatever" ingredient "may" be impacted.

 

Marshall



#19 Hank Major

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Posted 06 March 2020 - 09:28 PM

These are the inquiries we have received. 

Our response is that we have multiple options for approved suppliers of "whatever" ingredient "may" be impacted.

 

Marshall

Yes, they want assurances that you have lined up and approved back-up suppliers.



#20 Charles.C

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Posted 12 March 2020 - 08:34 AM

(slightly OT)

 

Hi All,

 

I noticed this, presumably recent, article which seemed worth linking to. Brief but quite informative.

 

https://techni-k.co....-food-industry/

 

One comment which (see ***) I had not previously heard (or had missed) being specifically spelled out was -

 

The virus is not airborne, it is only transferred by touch.  Wearing a face mask will only help to stop the spread of the virus, if someone was to cough or sneeze – as the virus is spread on water droplets.

 

***

 I very briefly followed up ^^^(red) and found this -

 

COVID-19 is transmitted via droplets and fomites during close unprotected contact between
an infector and infectee.  Airborne spread has not been reported for COVID-19 and it is not
believed to be a major driver of transmission based on available evidence; however, it can
be envisaged if certain aerosol-generating procedures are conducted in health care facilities.  
Fecal shedding has been demonstrated from some patients, and viable virus has been
identified in a limited number of case reports.  However, the fecal-oral route does not
appear to be a driver of COVID-19 transmission; its role and significance for COVID-19
remains to be determined.  Viral shedding is discussed in the Technical Findings (Annex C).

Attached File  who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf   1.47MB   36 downloads
(blue emphases are my own)

 

 

 

I also saw this -

airborne transmission ??
  • It's controversial whether COVID19 can be transmitted via an airborne route (small particles which remain aloft in the air for longer periods of time).  Airborne transmission would imply the need for N95 masks (“FFP2” in Europe), rather than surgical masks.  This controversy is explored further in Shiu et al 2019.
  • Airborne precautions started being used with MERS and SARS out of an abundance of caution (rather than any clear evidence that coronaviruses are transmitted via an airborne route).  This practice has often been carried down to COVID19.
  • Guidelines disagree about whether to use airborne precautions:
    • The Canadian Guidelines and World Health Organisation guidelines both recommend using only droplet precautions for routine care of COVID19 patients.  However, both of these guidelines recommend airborne precautions for procedures which generate aerosols (e.g. intubation, noninvasive ventilation, CPR, bag-mask ventilation, and bronchoscopy).
    • The United States CDC recommends using airborne precautions all the time when managing COVID19 patients.
  • Using airborne precautions for all patients who are definitely or potentially infected with COVID19 will likely result in rapid depletion of N95 masks.  This will leave healthcare providers unprotected when they actually need these masks for aerosol-generating procedures.
  • In the context of a pandemic, the Canadian and WHO guidelines may be more sensible in countries with finite resources (i.e. most locales).  However, infection control is ultimately local, so be sure to follow your hospital's guidance regarding this.

https://emcrit.org/ibcc/covid19/
(dated 2nd March 2020)

(red emphasis is my own)

(various refs/authorities are hyperlinked in original article)

 

So the conclusion is maybe probable but not absolutely certain. Maybe more recent information also exists.

 

PS - also noticed this, dated 1st March,2020 -

There has been some question about whether this coronavirus is “airborne” and what that means. The virus is not airborne using the scientific definition used for pathogens such as tubercolosis or measles. Droplets might become aerosolized for some viruses, but there is not yet evidence showing that this coronavirus can be breathed in when a nearby infected individual exhales. Most research into this question focuses on influenza, such as this 2018 study suggesting the flu virus can be aerosolized in exhalations without coughing or sneezing. This evidence is preliminary, and it remains an open scientific question whether (and which) droplet-based respiratory viruses are transmitted this way. So far, all documented transmission for COVID cases has involved droplets. ]

https://www.forbes.c...k/#125fde10676c
(various refs are hyperlinked in original article)

Attached File  COVID-19.pdf   42.77KB   102 downloads
 


Edited by Charles.C, 12 March 2020 - 09:53 AM.
added PS

Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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#21 GMO

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Posted 12 March 2020 - 12:14 PM

I think in all of this, we have to remember it's not a food safety risk and not a foodborne disease.



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#22 MsMars

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Posted 12 March 2020 - 03:42 PM

I think in all of this, we have to remember it's not a food safety risk and not a foodborne disease.

 

Was reading this article this morning during my coffee hour: 

https://www.usatoday...ons/5025087002/

 

I don't put much stock in USA Today, but I do highly regard Ben Chapman's opinion on matters.



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#23 pHruit

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Posted 13 March 2020 - 02:49 PM

No idea which of the burgeoning COVID19 thread this lives in, but as a follow-on from the point on food safety I thought it worth sharing the latest EFSA announcement on this, even though it largely just reiterates the point: https://www.efsa.eur...nsmission-route






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