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Can You Really Get COVID-19 From Food?

Can You Really Get COVID-19 From Food?

The question of “can food be contaminated with coronavirus” is a legitimate concern.

This is especially true these days since more and more people are using food delivery services to try and avoid going outside.

But can food even get contaminated in the first place? And if there is a risk, what steps can people take in order to stay safe?

Can food be contaminated with coronavirus?

Coronavirus, or COVID-19’s primary form of transmission is through droplets. When infected people cough, sneeze, or even talk, these droplets get spread around.

If another person inhales these infected droplets and it gets into their lungs, then there is a chance that they could get infected.

Scientists also discovered that aside from these droplets, coronavirus can also spread through contaminated surfaces. If an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches surfaces without washing their hands, there is a good chance that these surfaces can get contaminated.

And if another person touches those surfaces and then touches their mouth, nose, or face, they can also get infected.

This form of transmission is what people are concerned about when it comes to their food. People are worried that if a person sick with coronavirus prepares their food, or even touches the food container, then they themselves might also be at risk.

But it is not quite as simple as that, because there are a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to surface transmission.

How is COVID-19 Transmitted?

There currently is no evidence that COVID-19 spreads through food

It is important to remember that COVID-19’s primary form of transmission is through droplets, not surfaces. What this means is that while coronavirus can infect people through surfaces, the possibility of it happening is much lower than droplet transmission.

Additionally, there have been no reports of people getting infected through food. One thing to remember is that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. What this means is that the virus needs to get into the respiratory system for a person to be infected.

Eating food contaminated with COVID-19 would most likely not pose a threat to anyone’s health.

What about fruits and vegetables?

When the topic of “can food be contaminated with coronavirus” pops up, one concern that people have is with fruits and vegetables.

Studies have found that fruits and vegetables can actually be contaminated if a person with COVID-19 touches them.

However, scientists and experts have yet to find any evidence of people getting infected this way.

Regardless, it would be a good idea to wash and scrub fruits and vegetables thoroughly before storing them. This can help kill off any germs and viruses that might linger on the skins of fruits and vegetables.

If you used paper bags to carry your produce, then it would be a good idea to dispose of them immediately. In the case of reusable bags, be sure to disinfect them thoroughly before using them.

How about food containers?

Another concern that people is with food containers. After all, COVID-19 can survive on surfaces, so they should also be able to contaminate food containers.

This is true, but so far, there are no recorded cases of people getting infected this way. It could happen, but for people who practice food safety and hygiene, this should not be a cause for concern.

How can you keep yourself safe?

Even if there is no evidence that COVID-19 spreads through food, this does not mean that you should not practice proper hygiene. After all, we still do not know everything about the virus, so we can’t take any chances.

Here are some things that you can do to help lower your risk of getting infected and keep yourself safe:

  • Be sure to wash your hands before touching any food containers, and before eating. Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds can help kill off any bacteria and viruses, and can prevent you from getting sick.
  • If you buy any fruits or vegetables, wash them thoroughly, and scrub them with a vegetable brush. It is also important to wash your hands thoroughly after buying groceries.
  • Disinfect and clean household surfaces. In particular, commonly touched surfaces such as tables, countertops, doorknobs, light switches, toilets, sinks, and faucets should be cleaned and disinfected.
  • If getting food delivered, be sure to wear a mask when you pick up your food. This can help lower the risk of infection.
  • Try to avoid paying cash when ordering food online. This helps minimize contact with other people, and can lower your risk of infection.
  • As much as possible, try to stay at home. Only go out when necessary, and try to stay out only for a short time.
  • When outside, practice safe social distancing, and avoid going to any crowded places in order to avoid getting infected.
  • Be sure to wear a face mask when you go outside.
  • If you are using a disposable face mask, be sure to dispose of it as soon as you are done using it. If it is a reusable face mask, disinfect it thoroughly before using it again.

Learn more about the latest updates on COVID-19, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Food and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/food-and-COVID-19.html, Accessed July 15 2020

Eating takeout amid COVID-19: UC Davis expert explains food safety | UC Davis Health, https://health.ucdavis.edu/good-food/blog/eating-takeout-amid-covid-19.html, Accessed July 15 2020

Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | FDA, https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/food-safety-and-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19, Accessed July 15 2020

Can COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread through food, water, surfaces and pets? – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/expert-answers/can-coronavirus-spread-food-water/faq-20485479, Accessed July 15 2020

Coronavirus and Food Safety | FAQs | The Food Safety Authority of Ireland, https://www.fsai.ie/faq/coronavirus.html, Accessed July 15 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Aug 17, 2020
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
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