You Do Not Need to Fear Food During the COVID-19 Crisis
Updated: May 17
This blog will summarize COVID-19 food safety messages from leading health organizations followed by practical tips.
There is a lot of talk, videos, social media right now focusing on how to properly handle food to prevent getting infected with the COVID-19 virus. For many, the alarmist approach to the extreme COVID - 19 food safety measures is causing extreme anxiety. Some of the suggestions include to leave your groceries outside for days, to use hand sanitizer on the outside of food packages and to avoid buying ready-made or take out foods. What happens if you live in an apartment, are rationing hand sanitizer (me) and depend on ready-made meals for a multitude of reasons? These extreme suggestions are adding to the mental burden that we need to unload with knowledge.
THE FACTS - What we know right now is that:
"There is currently no evidence to suggest that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus and there are currently no reported cases of COVID 19 transmission through food. People are unlikely to be infected with the virus through food. Scientists and food safety authorities across the world are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19." Health Canada
The virus is spread from-person-person contact. Social distancing and proper hygiene are the two most important players in prevention. While the virus can live on surfaces, the CDC reports, "It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."
To date, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 have been linked to contamination of food. Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread through food made by infected people. There is a theoretical risk that a person infected with COVID-19 could spread the virus by sneezing on food or by directly touching food with their hands. However, there have been no cases reported of such transmission with COVID-19. To be safe, if you are sick with COVID-19, do not prepare or handle food for others.
Cooking kills the virus. Use a thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the food has reached 74°C/165°F
COVID-19 does not grow on surfaces. It may survive on food surfaces for a few hours to a few days before it dies off.
1 WEEK COVID MEAL PLAN + RECIPES. This is a complete meal plan package to help parents feed their families during these trying times. These are some of my tried and true, easy recipes. Click HERE to download the package.
Practical Tips to Stay Safe
At the Grocery Store
Keep your distance from other shoppers and store staff
Sanitize the grocery cart
Avoid touching your face
Wash or sanitize your hands before handling your credit card or other personal items
See the recent post about what non-perishable groceries to have on-hand for 2 -weeks of isolation.
Place your groceries in one location in your kitchen
Wash your hands
Rinse fresh produce under cold running water before storing
Sanitize the area where you placed your groceries
Wash your hands
*Some people may choose to wash the outside of food containers to mitigate risk, however this has not been a general recommendation.
Wash your hands before cooking and after touching raw food
Cook meat and fish according to Health Canada recommendations
When in doubt, heat kills the virus once it has reached 74°C/165°F
Wash your hands anytime you touch your face
Practical Tips When Ordering Take Away
Remove the food from the packaging using a utensil
Wash your hands after handling the packaging
Safer options are foods that stored in an open display case and are less handled
*People with suppressed immune systems might not feel comfortable with the risk of takeaway
My hope is that this information provides some clarity on a topic that has been causing undue stress. You know your family and their needs best, and if you feel you need to take extra steps outside what the leading health agencies are suggesting in order to keep them safe, I support you 100%. I do ask however that you not share these additional steps on social media as it increases confusion and can cause a fear of food.
I encourage you to check this blog post as our understanding of COVID-19 grows. I will update this post with any changes.
Click to see the virtual sessions I am offering while we remain in isolation. They are informative but casual and we always socialize and group chat afterwards.
1 WEEK COVID MEAL PLAN + RECIPES. Complete meal plan package to help parents feed their families during these trying times. These are some of my tried and true, easy recipes. Click HERE to download the package.
Disclaimer: All the advice shared here is general information. Consult your doctor for personalized health information. Compiled March, 2020
Special thanks to Sabrina Mastrangelo, 3rd year nutrition student at Ryerson University who did research for this post.