Can you get COVID-19 from food? I’ve seen the same headlines you have, and I also wondered if our food system was still safe. With food processing plants being closed or having to slow production (read this post about dumping milk if you haven’t) due to social distancing between workers, and all the memes floating around Facebook even the most rational person is going to pause and wonder if our food is safe during the coronavirus pandemic. I have good news!
Can I get coronavirus from food?
I did a deep dive into the science-minded side of the internet to answer my questions and I wanted to share with you what I found so you can set your phone down and pay more attention to your darling children that are driving you insane instead of googling “does cooking food kill coronavirus?”. The most important message across every reputable source I read is that COVID-19 remains an illness spread by respiration and human to human contact and is not considered a foodborne illness. Not only is there no evidence that people are getting sick from the actual food we eat, but there is also no evidence that people are getting sick from the packaging our food comes in.
The FDA says this on the subject-
“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. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.”FDA website 3-17-2020
While preliminary studies show that the virus can live on some surfaces from a few hours to a few days it’s super important to remember that unlike bacteria, the virus can’t replicate itself inside our food.
What should you do to protect yourself from COVID-19 Cross contamination?
At risk of sounding like a sane and rational person, the basics still apply here.
- Wash your hands often. With actual soap vs sanitizer whenever possible. If you want to make your own sanitizer, Everclear and aloe gel are having a moment online that they haven’t shared since your spring break trip to Florida. I make no promises on their effectiveness, I personally swore off anything to do with Everclear long ago.
- Don’t rub food packaging on your face or lick the packaging your food comes in. Nothing shows that you can get COVID-19 from groceries but to further protect yourself, you should wash your hands after you put your groceries away.
- Cook your meat. While there is no evidence that our food is contaminated, cooking your meat to the recommended internal temperature is always a good idea and isn’t a pandemic specific food safety rule. Don’t forget to wash your hands after handling raw meat. As always, avoid rubbing raw meat juice in your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Wash your fruits and vegetables. Wash them thoroughly. Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Avoid extra trips to the store. There are people there and it is proven that people spread the virus. Avoiding people is the surest way to not get infected.
- If at all possible, don’t take your kids to the store with you. Kids will lick things and that’s a violation of rule #2. Shopping should be a single person activity.
- Avoid touching your face. Avoid touching other people’s faces. Don’t pick your nose. Don’t pick your friend’s nose. Wash your hands and tell your friends to wash their hands.
- It is now suggested that you wear a mask in public. However, it is unnecessary to post a selfie from the canned goods aisle of you in your mask along with a rant about everyone you saw without a mask.
Are we going to run out of food because of covid-19?
No, we won’t run out of food. Farmers like me and my family are still out here doing our jobs and working hard to provide for you. However, there is probably going to be shortages of some items in some stores for the duration of this pandemic. We are not chipmunks preparing for winter. You don’t need to go out and buy all the things and hoard all the food, which will only make these shortages worse. You may need to be flexible and try new cuts of meat or veggie you haven’t had before.
“You gotta try new foods because they might taste good! So good!”Daniel Tiger
While I am adding humor to this topic, I do understand how serious it is. The best we can do right now is to follow the recommendations from scientists. There hasn’t been any evidence suggesting that our food system isn’t safe or that our groceries are a source of COVID-19 infections. I’m taking extra precautions, but I am not losing sleep wondering if my family might get COVID from food. All while making sure I wash my hands.