Federal guide calls supplement workers ‘essential;’ task for industry now to ensure state and local mandates reflect that

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

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Getty Images

Related tags: coronavirus, COVID-19

A new federal government update on who may be considered essential workers now specifically includes employees of dietary supplement manufacturing and sales operations. Trade groups said it’s now up to industry to make sure that is reflected in local and state shelter in place orders.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within the Department of Homeland Security has issued a Version 2.0​ of its guidance.  The guidance provides a number of additional details on who may be considered essential within the health care, law enforcement, transportation, food and agriculture sectors.  

These changes have been monitored closely by trade organizations in the dietary supplement industry including the American Herbal Products Association, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the Natural Products Association and the United Natural Products Alliance.

New definitions of workers

Workers now specifically mentioned in the guidance include:

  • Manufacturering workers for health products manufacturing including biotech items, sanitizing products and equipment, personal protective equipment and medical devices. Also covered are employees of pharmaceutical and dietary supplement manufacturers.
  • Workers at groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores and other retail outlets that sell human food, pet products, beverages and other items.
  • Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food ingredient production and processing facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging.
  • Employees of supply chain operations that supply ingredients to the above industries.
  • Workers in analytical and diagnostic testing laboratories.
  • Workers in sanitation and pest control contractors for essential businesses.

Guidance not binding on local and state authorities

AHPA appreciates that dietary supplement workers are now specifically identified as ‘essential critical infrastructure' in this latest guidance from the Department of Homeland Security,”​ said Michael McGuffin, AHPA’s president.

 The guidance also reiterated its previous advice that other segments of food industry operations are essential, for example retail stores, testing laboratories and more. However, as this guidance reiterates it is ‘advisory in nature’ and not ‘a federal directive or standard,’ companies and workers should check state and local recommendations and directives in making status determinations for operations that qualify as essential critical infrastructure,”​ he added.

NPA president and CEO Daniel Fabricant, PhD, said his organization has instituted a grassroots coordination effort to make sure that local and state shelter in place initiatives reflect the federal guidance.

 “Our businesses are going to stay open to serve local communities during this difficult time,”​ Fabricant said.  “We thank our members for their hard work, and we will continue to provide regular updates about how we can work with policymakers as the country responds to the COVID-19 public health crisis.” 


AHPA Covid-19 resource center.

CRN Covid-19 resource center.

NPA Covid-19 grassroots link.

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