Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and food
The European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety has published a frequently asked questions document on food and COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2).
Some of the most significant issues are the following:
What is the risk of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) infection through food?
To date there are no reports of transmission of COVID-19 through food. The main route of transmission is from person to person.
What is the risk of COVID-19 infection through food packaging?
There are studies that support that the causal agent of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) persists up to 24 hours in the cardboard, under experimental conditions (for example at controlled temperature and humidity). There is no evidence that contaminated containers exposed to different environmental conditions transmit the infection.
There are studies that confirm that the Coronavirus persists up to 24 hours in cardboard
Is the agri-food industry (including distribution chains) taking steps to prevent contamination of the food they produce or distribute?
There are already implemented standards that regulate food production in the European Union and official controls are carried out to ensure compliance. These measures are designed to prevent the contamination of pathogens and therefore includes the COVID-19 virus.
Good hygiene practices are followed in all the links of the production chain, especially washing and disinfection of food and personal hygiene (hand washing, the use of masks and appropriate clothing to maintain hygiene).
Can confinement limit hygiene controls in the food sector? Does this undermine food security?
No. The agri-food industry takes its own preventive measures, which are verified throughout the production chain (self-control) and this in turn is confirmed by sanitary controls. Although confinement affects the modalities of official controls, it does not affect the safety of the products.
Can I get infected in food establishments from food in contact with contaminated people?
Currently there is no information available on the presence of COVID-19 in food, but there is information on the spread from person to person.
According to the Food Safety Agency of the European Union (EFSA), infection through food is very unlikely, but theoretically, packaging or food could produce indirect cross contamination by contact with hands. Therefore, the public health recommendations emphasize the need for hand washing as a preventive measure. Workers should wear gloves and change them often.
It is important that users only touch the food they need, so as not to transmit possible pathogens present on their hands.
As a supermarket, how can I protect workers and customers from being infected by other people who visit the food store?
Ensuring the distance between people, marking on the ground the distance allowed between people and limiting the number of people allowed simultaneously in the establishment.
You can also provide hand sanitizer at the entrance of the establishment and even distribute gloves among customers and visitors.
Transparent plastic screen is needed when there is direct contact, for example in payment boxes. Card payment against cash is recommended to avoid unnecessary contact with surfaces.
Can I minimize the potential risk at home of COVID-19 infection?
Yes. It is very important to apply strict measures in the kitchen such as removing containers before storing products whenever possible, washing fruits and vegetables and carefully washing kitchen utensils.
Contact AGQ Labs if you need additional information on food safety and the relationship between food and Covid-19.
Source: European Commission