COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and it is believed to be transmitted from person to person. Yet, some people still fear catching this disease through food and food packaging. I’m here to put your minds at rest and give you the latest evidence on this topic.
What is the chance that COVID-19 will be transmitted through food packaging? An article by the BBC discussed that some laboratory based studies have shown that the virus survives for hours (if not days) on food packaging, particularly on cardboard and some forms of plastics. Additionally, the virus appears to be most stable at the lower temperatures which most food is transported in.
The only danger is that if an infected person coughs or sneezes onto food packaging
However, these studies were done in lab conditions and in the outside world the rapid changes to environmental conditions makes it difficult for the virus to survive for long. COVID-19 needs a live animal or human host to multiply, so it can’t multiply on the surface of food packaging.
The risk of transmission from food packaging is low. The only danger is that if an infected person coughs or sneezes onto food packaging and someone touches this surface within one-two hours, this might be a potential route of transmission.
Regarding drinking water, COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water and water treatment facilities have processes to filter and disinfect water before it reaches your home.
There is no current evidence supporting that food and food packaging is a likely source or route in transmission
PEN (The Global Resource for Nutrition Practice) recently released key recommendations on this topic. There is no current evidence supporting that food and food packaging is a likely source or route in transmission of this virus. PEN recommend cooking food thoroughly and following good hygiene practices stating that common cleaning kills COVID-19. Foods such as meat, poultry and eggs should be cooked at a minimum temperature of 70 degrees Celsius, which kills viruses and bacteria found in food.
Indeed, The World Health Organization states that there are no confirmed cases of Covid-19 transmission through food or food packaging. They advise washing hands after handling food packaging and before eating to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
If you eat any fruit or vegetables raw, wash your hands with soap before touching them and wash the fruit/vegetables thoroughly with water before consumption (don’t wash them with soap, bleach, disinfectants, alcohol).
Salt, pepper, vinegar, lemon, lime juice have not been shown to be effective at removing germs on food. If you shop for your groceries in store, sanitize your hands before entering and after leaving and remember not to touch your face, eyes, or mouth. Plastic bags that you carry to and from the store should be disinfected after usage.
Finally, the risk of catching COVID-19 through food and food packaging appears low, with no confirmed Covid-19 cases by this route of transmission. It is advised to wash your hands before and after handling food/ food packaging and continue to follow good hygiene practices.
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