Current DateSeptember 19, 2021

Covid-19: Can you catch the coronavirus from food?

According to the WHO, it is unlikely that the Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus can be transmitted through food. Here are (anyway) the official recommendations.

This Tuesday, August 11, 2020, viral particles of the Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus were discovered on frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil, in the city of Shenzhen (China). And in July 2020, the virus was identified on packaging of shrimp from Ecuador, in another Chinese province. Faced with these recent discoveries, concerns are mounting: can we catch the coronavirus through food?

The World Health Organization (WHO) is reassuring: “we do not think that the coronavirus can be transmitted by food. If we understand correctly, China was looking for the virus on packaging and has tested hundreds of thousands and found very few, less than ten positives,” estimated the health authorities this Thursday, August 13, 2020.

The WHO points out that, in the case of contaminated chicken wings, tests carried out on people who have been in contact with the meat (and on their relatives) have been found to be negative.

Although the virus can “stay on surfaces for a while”, “people shouldn’t be afraid of food, food packaging or the food chain,” says Michael Ryan, director of health emergencies at the World Health Organization (WHO). Who adds: “our food, as far as Covid is concerned, is safe; there is no evidence that food or food chains participate in the transmission of the virus”.

Nonetheless a few recommendations are given:

  • For fruits and vegetables. After a purchase, before consuming fruits and vegetables or cooking them, they must be washed well in drinking water. Do not use disinfectant such as bleach or detergent, you risk poisoning yourself if the chemicals are not washed off properly. The use of white vinegar to rinse fruits and vegetables is not necessary: it has no viricidal action.
  • For meat and fish. It is recommended to cook your meat to an interior temperature of 70 degrees centigrade to inactivate many microorganisms and destroy the Sars-Cov-2 virus, if they are present.
  • For packaging. Even though the disease-causing virus cannot survive for more than 3 hours on the packaging surfaces, wiping the packages with a damp single-use paper towel is an added precaution. For foods that can be stored in the refrigerator, whenever possible, remove any overwrapping before putting them away.
  • Coming home from the store. It is necessary to wash your hands, the fruits and vegetables before stocking at the fridge.
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