Food & Eating Safety in Regards to COVID-19
Can you get the coronavirus from eating contaminated food?
The USDA and FDA both state that there is no evidence that eating food can cause a person to get COVID-19. Due to natural stomach acids, the coronavirus would likely not survive after eating any contaminated food.
However, touching a recently-contaminated food (or any surface) and then directly touching your eyes, nose or mouth can cause infection. This supports the importance of thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Can you get the coronavirus from drinking water?
The CDC states that SARS-CoV-2 hasn’t been detected in water. In addition, municipal drinking water systems and other common filtration systems will remove viruses or render them inactive. So “no,” you cannot get the coronavirus from drinking water.
What is the safest way to handle food when cooking?
According to the CDC, if you’re preparing food, you should wash your hands multiple times: before, during and after handling food. The 4 best practices of keeping everything clean, preventing cross-contamination of raw foods, cooking food to the proper temperature and refrigerating/freezing foods properly should always be followed.
What is the safest way to handle my food when eating?
The CDC strongly advices to always thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before touching your food.
If you are completely unable to wash your hands before eating, use hand sanitizer. You can also avoid touching your food by using utensils or holding food in a wrapper, cone, or on a stick.
What is the safest way to get groceries?
The absolute safest way to get groceries is to stay at home and either order your groceries online or have someone you know buy and deliver your groceries to you. This helps limit contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces.
In this case, you want to make sure to maintain your distance from the person delivering your groceries (at least 6 feet away). Any payment should be handled online. If this is not possible, wash your hands immediately after any money exchange.
The USDA states that although there are no reports of the transmission of COVID-19 through food packaging, 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.
If you must go out to buy your own food, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before going out to prevent the spread of any germs. Although you may not have any symptoms of illness, you may unknowingly be a carrier.
To limit the spread of germs within supermarkets or grocery stores, consider the proper use of a non-medical mask and gloves, if you have them available to you. The WHO provides a guide on how to wear masks and and the CDC has a guide on how to wear and dispose of gloves. If you are unable to wear a mask or gloves, bring hand sanitizer (if you have any).
In any case, be extra careful to sanitize your shopping cart handle with wipes, which are usually provided by the entrance of the supermarket. Only pick up food that you plan to buy and avoid touching commonly touched public surfaces. Most importantly do not touch your face in any manner. Use your hand sanitizer immediately after leaving the supermarket to prevent contaminating your car or other mode of transportation. Make sure to completely wash your hands as soon as you get back home.
Since USDA maintains that there are no reports of the transmission of COVID-19 through food packaging, washing your food packages are not a requirement. However, always clean any fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) as usual. If you’d like to take extra precaution for your peace of mind, wipe down the exterior of any packaging with alcohol wipes. Watch this video for additional tips:
What is the safest way to handle food from restaurants?
Just like buying groceries, the safest way to buy food from restaurants is to stay at home and either order your food online and have it delivered or get someone you know to pick up your food and deliver it to you.
Again, maintain your distance from the person delivering your food. If you must exchange any money, wash your hands immediately afterwards. And since you don’t know what you’ll touch in the meantime, always fully wash your hands just before eating.
If you must pick up your food from a restaurant, remember to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before going out to prevent spreading any germs.
Wear a mask and gloves, if available, as directed by the WHO and CDC above.
If you’re unable to wear a mask and gloves, take your hand sanitizer (if you have any) with you. In any case, avoid touching restaurant door handles and other commonly touched public surfaces. Again, don’t touch your face! Use your hand sanitizer immediately after leaving the restaurant to prevent contaminating your car or other mode of transportation.
Always wash your hands like a surgeon as soon as you get back home and you’re good to go. Enjoy your meal!
What is the best way to clean food?
When it comes to food and eating, you want to avoid using any toxic chemicals, which should never come into contact with your food. It is safe to wipe down the sealed exterior of any food packaging with antibacterial wipes. However, as we covered earlier, this is not necessary to prevent contracting COVID-19.
Meats are safe to eat as long as they are cooked to their recommended temperatures.
If you’re looking to clean any produce, avoid any soaps or detergents. According to the USDA, remove any dirt or bacteria from your produce by running it under cold tap water. Fruits and vegetables with firm surfaces like apples and oranges can be cleaned with a brush. Slice off any bruised or damage areas to prevent bacteria growth and refrigerate all fresh produce to maintain its freshness and safety.
Feeling overwhelmed by the advice above, or think you’ll go crazy trying to remember it all? The most important things to keep in mind are:
- Stay home.
- If you have to go out for food, don’t touch your face. Wash your hands as soon as you get home.
- Wash your hands before handling any food.
Happy and safe eating!
Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.