COVID-19 Information & Resources

Bottled water during the COVID-19 pandemic

Demand for bottled water has increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet this surge in demand, IBWA member companies have expanded production in order to provide their home and office customers and retail consumers with the bottled water they need.

In addition, bottled water companies are donating bottled water to charitable community organizations and other groups. As examples: bottler member Aqua Filter Fresh, Inc. came to the aid of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County Police Department, supplying bottled water that was handed out along with 340 large pizzas for a social distancing drive-through party in Wilmerding, a town financially hard-hit by the pandemic. DS Services of America, Inc. is contributing to the United Way’s efforts to help people in need with food, shelter, and critical services, along with donating water to hospitals, first responders, and food banks in highly impacted U.S. communities. And bottler Culligan of Lewisburg and North Central PA, through the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, made a financial contribution to GIVING TUESDAY to help those fighting COVID-19 in its community.

In New York City, Niagara Bottling has donated more than a half a million bottles of water to relief efforts, as well as bottled water for numerous hospitals, food banks, and shelters throughout the United States. Danone Waters of America has also stepped in to provide support to New York City, donating more than 426,000 bottles of water for those working on the front lines at local hospitals. Nestlé Waters—in addition to donating water to communities in New York City; Flint, Michigan; and other locations—is providing bottles to local distilleries (distinguishable from bottles that contain water) to be filled with hand sanitizer for healthcare workers, first responders, and the public. 

In addition, IBWA supplier members are also finding innovative ways to support those working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Polymer Solutions International donated 4,200 face shields to the Health Professionals and Allied Employees, the largest union of registered nurses and healthcare professionals in New Jersey, in addition to financial contributions to the South Jersey Food Bank, Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge, and the Ronald McDonald House. And Silgan, a producer of consumer goods packaging, has been making facemasks with its 3D printer and donating them to local care facilities in need.  

IBWA’s member companies are working tirelessly around the clock to ensure bottled water products are available to consumers. They’ve done this by:

  • increasing bottling capacity
  • acquiring extra packaging and materials
  • working with retailers to determine demand
  • hiring additional drivers and bottling plant workers

CLICK HERE for more information.

A Niagara Bottling plant team proudly makes a donation of protective equipment and bottled water to representatives from Alliance HealthCare System in Byhalia, Mississippi, in support of their efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Nestlé Waters is working with local distilleries to provide them with bottles to be filled with hand sanitizer for healthcare workers, first responders, and the public.

 

Danone Waters of America has provided support to New York City frontline workers with a donation of more than 426,000 bottles of water to local hospitals.

In Mobile, Alabama, a nurse working at an infirmary COVID-19 testing site is happy to receive bottled water donated from DS Service of America’s Kentwood, Louisiana facility.

IBWA bottler member Aqua Filter Fresh donated cases of bottled water to an April 4 community "Social Distancing Pizza Party," held by the Allegheny County Police Department.

 

Polymer Solutions International donated 4,200 face shields to the Health Professionals and Allied Employees, the largest union of registered nurses and healthcare professionals in New Jersey.

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the virus 2019-nCoV, more commonly known as Novel Coronavirus. Novel Coronavirus is known as one among a large family of coronaviruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

COVID-19 has affected hundreds of thousands of people across the globe and has been described as a new strain of coronavirus that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans. Common signs of COVID-19 infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small respiratory droplets, which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, WHO recommends regular hand washing; covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing; not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; thoroughly cooking meat and eggs; and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Has COVID-19 been detected in drinking water? No.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Water Transmission and COVID-19 webpage addressed COVID-19 transmission through drinking water stating that “COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.”

According to Drinking Water Research Foundation (DWRF) Trustee Dr. Eugene Rice, “Bottled water produced using multiple barrier treatments—such as filtration, disinfection, and reverse osmosis—during processing should also remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Can COVID-19 be transmitted via food or food packaging?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC have stated there is no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted by food or food packaging, which would include bottled water. FDA issued the following statement on February 27, 2020, concerning COVID-19 and food products: 

"We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices (i.e., wash hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and refrigerate foods promptly) when handling or preparing foods."

In addition, the CDC’s website has a Frequently Asked Questions webpage that includes a “How It Spreads” section with the following information on whether the COVID-19 virus can be spread through food:

"Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. . . In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks."

Is the U.S. food supply safe?
Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses—like norovirus and hepatitis A—that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness and not gastrointestinal illness, and foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. That’s why it’s always critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill. For more info, visit FDA's website.

Can I get the coronavirus from food, food packaging, or food containers?
Currently there is no evidence of food, food containers, or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill.

If you are concerned about contamination of food or food packaging, wash your hands after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating and before you eat. Consumers can follow CDC guidelines on frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces.

What actions can I take to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19?
The FDA and CDC have recommended many commonsense actions by industries and the public, including:

  • Hand washing and sanitizing, and general good hygiene practices.
  • Encourage employees with symptoms of respiratory illnesses to stay at home.
  • If you do not currently have a telework policy, you may want to consider implementing one where possible at least for a period until the threat is mitigated.
  • Limit travel, especially to regions identified by CDC and the State Department as being at-risk for COVID-19 infection.
  • Review the business continuity section of your food defense plan to become familiar with possible disruptions caused by local outbreaks. If your supply chain relies on materials or products from China or other affected regions, plan for alternative sources of those materials.

Are recalls on food anticipated? No.
FDA does not anticipate that food products would need to be recalled or be withdrawn from the market because of COVID-19. FDA reaches this conclusion because “there is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging.”

In addition, facilities are required to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill regardless of the type of virus or bacteria. For example, facilities are required to maintain clean and sanitized facilities and food contact surfaces.

What steps should an employer take when an employee tests positive for COVID-19?

FDA advises that if an employee in a food processing facility tests positive for COVID-19, facilities should take the following steps to ensure the foods they produce are safe:

  • Inform fellow employees of the possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace, while maintaining confidentiality.
  • Instruct sick employees to follow the CDC’s “What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) guidance.”
  • Re-double cleaning and sanitation efforts to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill, regardless of the type of virus or bacteria.
  • Consult with the local health department for additional guidance, including whether to request other workers who may have been exposed to the worker who tested positive for COVID-19 to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The FDA guidance also addresses whether a food facility must close after an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, advising that “food facilities need to follow protocols set by local and state health departments, which may vary depending on the amount of community spread of COVID-19 in a given area.” FDA says that these decisions will be based on public health risk of person-to-person transmission—not based on food safety. FDA reaches this conclusion because “there is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging.”

What does the FDA recommend for service industry workers who deal with the public?
The FDA recommends the following actions for service industry workers who deal with the general public:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

What can food companies do?
The affect COVID-19 is having changes daily, if not hourly. Food companies are encouraged to continue monitoring developments at that national and state levels, keeping a close eye on how restrictions and curfews could affect their operations. Anticipating that potential lockdowns or curfews could affect your ability to deliver product, companies may find it helpful to provide employees/carriers with a letter confirming that individual is traveling to or from a food facility or transporting food materials in the event he/she is questioned by local authorities. IBWA members can contact IBWA for a sample letter designed to inform the reader that the person is a Critical Infrastructure Sector worker. Note, however, such a letter does not guarantee that an individual or shipment will be permitted to proceed under any state or local restriction.

State Business Closures and Openings
The links below provide information on state activity in response to COVID-19, including details on closures and openings of non-essential businesses.

CLICK HERE for a listing of Executive Orders and actions in each state that impact the workforce provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. *Please note that duration dates have not been updated but the links are to the individual Executive Order that addresses essential workers and restrictions on non-essential workers.*

CLICK HERE for a quick overview of actions in each state that include links to the most recent Executive Orders, legislative closures, travel restrictions, website links, and contact information provided by MultiState. This document is updated daily, and these updates are highlighted. *Please note that the links to Executive Orders are only to the most recent action in the state.*

CLICK HERE for a detailed summary of actions in each state including Executive Orders, legislative, and regulatory activity provided by Stateside Associates. This document is updated daily, and these updates are highlighted. *Please note that this document individually lists every Executive Order issued.*

Links to Helpful Resources
Many goverment organizations and others have published resources to help businesses stay on top of the ever-evolving COVID-19 business environment. IBWA has put together a list that provides links to some of the most helpful resources.

CLICK HERE to view IBWA's compilation of resources from organizations such as the CDC, FDA, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.