Can the coronavirus live on food and food packaging?

The new coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, is transmitted primarily through respiratory droplets. If someone with the virus talks, coughs or sneezes and you inhale these droplets, you can develop COVID-19.

Respiratory droplets containing the virus can also land on various surfaces. Although it is less common, the new coronavirus can also be transmitted by contact with a contaminated surface and then by contact with the nose, mouth or eyes.

For this reason, there are fears of contracting the virus through food or food packaging.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of this happening is actually very low.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what is known about the transmission of the coronavirus from food or food packaging, and the steps you can take to keep yourself safe.

Coronaviruses need living host cells to develop. Unlike bacteria or fungi, they cannot multiply in or on food.

It is still possible that the coronavirus is present on food. Indeed, some research which is currently in pre-printing revealed that the virus can survive on chilled or frozen meats for weeks.

However, the CDC notes that there is currently no evidence to support the spread of COVID-19 is associated with food.

Plus, taking proper food safety measures can help make sure you don’t get sick from food.

Good food safety not only reduces the risk of contracting the virus, it also prevents exposure to germs that can cause foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria.

Let’s explore some food safety tips that can help you avoid contracting the coronavirus – as well as other harmful germs – from the foods you eat.

wash your hands

Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before and after handling food.

It is especially important to wash your hands after handling raw foods such as meat, poultry, and seafood.

Cook food at the right temperature

Many foods have a minimum safe cooking temperature. This is the internal temperature at which a food must be cooked in order to kill potentially harmful germs like bacteria.

The minimum safe cooking temperature may vary according to the type of food. Here are some examples of minimum safe cooking temperature:

  • Poultry: 165 ° F
  • Ground beef, pork, lamb, veal: 160 ° F
  • Fresh beef, pork, lamb, veal: 145 ° F
  • Fish: 145 ° F or until flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork

Make sure you know the minimum cooking temperature of your food before cooking it. You can measure the internal temperature of a food using a food thermometer.

Rinse fresh produce

Since germs can be found on the surface of fresh produce, it is important to rinse these items thoroughly before eating them.

To do this, gently rub the surface of the product while it is under cold running water. For firm products like potatoes or apples, you can use a clean, soap-free brush to help gently scrub the surface.

Avoid using soap, bleach, or disinfectants to clean fresh produce. These can be harmful to you if you ingest them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been In no case of COVID-19 that have been associated with food packaging or shopping bags.

However, it is possible that the new coronavirus could survive on these surfaces.

Indeed, studies has been carried out over how long the new coronavirus can survive on several different surfaces. Some of them include common food packaging materials, such as:

  • Plastic. The virus can survive for 3 to 7 days on plastic.
  • Cardboard. The virus can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard.
  • A glass. The virus can survive for up to 4 days on glass.
  • Cloth. The virus can survive for up to 2 days on tissue.

It is important to remember that these studies were performed under standardized laboratory conditions. If the virus is present on food packaging, it is likely to be in small amounts and will also be sensitive to conditions such as temperature and humidity.

Overall, the new coronavirus does not survive well outside the human body. For this reason, there is usually no need to wipe down your groceries.

Follow these tips to stay as safe as possible when handling food packaging:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after returning from the grocery store, after putting away groceries, or after removing food from its packaging.
  • Avoid using bleach, ammonia, or other disinfectants to clean food packaging.
  • Promptly dispose of any unnecessary food packaging or shopping bags in the appropriate recycling or waste bin.
  • Wash soiled fabric shopping bags with your normal laundry.

Aside from food and food packaging, you may be concerned about restaurant food. This can include foods that you eat while eating in person or that you have ordered through takeout and delivery services.

During the pandemic, restaurants took steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 through food preparation by implementing certain safety measures, such as:

  • perform employee health examinations
  • have employees wear masks and gloves
  • requiring more frequent cleaning and disinfection

While it is not impossible to be exposed to the novel coronavirus from food that has been cooked or handled by another person, it is still unlikely.

Nevertheless, it is still important to be careful when ordering food.

Let’s see how to do this.

Dinner at the restaurant

Even though restaurants have a lot of security measures in place, that doesn’t mean going out to eat is safe.

In fact, a CDC study found that people who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to have recently visited a restaurant.

So how can you protect yourself if you choose to dine out?

Follow the pointers below:

Take-out or delivery order

There are also steps you can take to stay safe when ordering take out and deliveries. Here is an overview of what you can do.

It is not known how long the new coronavirus can survive in water. A 2008 study on another human coronavirus found that virus levels decreased by 99.9% after 10 days in filtered tap water at room temperature.

According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), tap water is safe. You can continue to use it as you always have for drinking, bathing and cooking.

Before reaching you, the tap water is treated in a wastewater treatment plant. This treatment uses filters, disinfectants, and UV light to get rid of potentially harmful germs, including the novel coronavirus.

However, the virus has been detected in other types of water, including non-potable water, wastewater and river water. For this reason, it is important to exercise caution around these types of water sources.

In addition to the food safety measures we’ve discussed, the following tips can help keep the coronavirus out of your home:

  • Wash your hands. It is important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after going out in public or after packing groceries. Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Disinfect high contact surfaces. Try to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home on a regular basis. The EPA provides a list of disinfectants which can kill the new coronavirus. Here are some examples of high contact surfaces:
    • switches
    • door handles
    • device handles
    • worktops, table tops and desks
    • bathroom
    • faucet handles
    • remote controls for electronics
    • tablets, phones and keyboards
    • video game controllers
  • Use gloves when cleaning. Try to wear a pair of disposable gloves when cleaning your home or handling potentially contaminated laundry. Always wash your hands after removing your gloves.
  • Wear a face mask. Always wear a face mask when in public or spending time with people outside your household. A mask should cover both your nose and mouth and include at least two to three layers of fabric.
  • Practice physical distancing. Stay at least 6 feet away from people outside your home. Try to avoid crowded or poorly ventilated areas.

The risk of contracting the novel coronavirus from surfaces with food or food packaging is very low. While the virus can be present on these items, taking preventative measures can help significantly reduce your risk of exposure.

These preventative measures include washing your hands after handling or packaging food and cooking the food to the appropriate temperature. When ordering at a restaurant, focus on locations that take preventative action, such as using contactless services.

Although tap water is safe to drink, it is best to use caution with other water sources, such as sewage and river water, as the virus has been detected in these sources.

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