Can Coronavirus be a Foodborne Illness?
The Coronavirus outbreak is undoubtedly affecting many aspects of our daily lives. As many counties are currently under lockdown restrictions, the weekly grocery store run is likely the only public exposure many people will be experiencing for quite some time. Maybe you have heard that your local restaurants are still open for takeout, but this seems too risky? Many people have expressed concern at contracting Coronavirus via their food, whether that be from the grocery store or from local restaurants. Here is what epidemiologists and food safety experts have to say on the matter.
Food safety officials continue to emphasize the fact that viruses such as COVID-19 are not generally spread through food. In one interview, Dr. Bob Morris, a Seattle physician and epidemiologist says, “respiratory diseases are just not typically spread by food…during the entire SARS outbreak back in 2003, there were no documented cases of a foodborne outbreak. So it’s unlikely in the first place that it’s being spread by food”. Furthermore, he explains that “even if it did get into the food, if it’s been cooked, it’s been sterilized.”. He also agrees with many others who say that grocery shopping versus take out places you in relatively the same amount of danger for exposure to Coronavirus.
In the case of grocery shopping, officials recommend that if possible the elderly and immunocompromised should avoid the grocery store and instead have a healthy family member or grocery store delivery service deliver them. Those doing the grocery shopping should be sure to sanitize their hands and cart before entering the store, and especially after returning home. When preparing food, take special care to cook it at the appropriate temperature and serve it promptly.
In the case of take out, officials recommend ordering hot foods to insure that any possible Coronavirus contamination would have been killed by the heat. Lastly, in extra precaution, you may want to place the food on your own plates and throw away any cardboard or plastic containers the food came in, as the virus can survive for up to 24 hours on such surfaces. This last step, according to national food poisoning lawyer Ron Simon, is an important additional step you can use to protect you or your family from food borne illness.
If these precautions are taken, the likely-hood of spreading the virus directly through the consumption of contaminated food is very low.