COVID-19 on the menu?

Witnessing this pandemic, even going to the supermarket became a challenge in our daily routines. We must be aware of the risks that threaten us as a society to understand why we will experience a completely unexpected 2020. In this context, the overdose of information on the real situation faced by health systems during this outbreak could generate a clear sense of insecurity in citizens desperately waiting for a solution. We must focus on our duties as civilian members and the responsibilities that this demands to preserve the most vulnerable sectors, as well as consider the actions that brought us to this point to be prepared for the uncertain future.

As a reflection, it was curious to observe that the food industry started to play a key role during this period. When all the stores were closing, pharmacies and supermarkets were the only ones that could work regularly, and with this we were able to appreciate how the food supply system is essential in such a critical period. That’s why I would like to dedicate this blog to discuss the possibility of transmission of COVID-19 through food.

The world health organization had published several documents offering different strategies to avoid possible contamination over food consumption. Even though, up to now there’s no relevant evidence that suggest transmission of the virus by food intake. Nevertheless, an important aspect to consider is the packaging and how this could become a potential hazard risk if it’s not treated responsibly. In the document published the 8th of April, “COVID-19 and food safety Questions and Answers” an expert committee integrated for several EU partners reply to the most common doubts related to the virus and food.

Now I will highlight some of the most relevant examples to take at home:

1) Can I get infected by the consumption of certain food?

“According to food safety agencies in the EU Member States, it is very unlikely that you can catch COVID-19 from handling food. The European Food Safety Authority stated in addition that there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The main mode of transmission for COVID-19 is considered to be from person to person, mainly via respiratory droplets that infected people sneeze, cough or exhale.”

2 What can I do to minimize any potential risk from food conveying the virus responsible for COVID-19?

First, washing thoroughly your hands with soap and warm water before and after shopping is particularly important as it will protect yourself as well as others. Also apply strictly the hygiene rules in your kitchen. Systematically wash fruits and vegetables with clean water and remove packaging before storage. Avoid contamination by kitchenware washing carefully every element in contact with different kinds of food. Avoid the use of cash to pay.

3 What is the risk of getting COVID-19 from food packaging?

Although according to a recent studies, the causal agent of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) was shown to persist for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to several days on hard surfaces such as steel and plastics in experimental settings (e.g. controlled relative humidity and temperature), there is no evidence that contaminated packages, which have been exposed to different environmental conditions and temperatures, transmit the infection.

4 Can I get infected through the handling of food by people who may be infected?

Theoretically, as is the case for any contact surface contaminated by an infected person, be it a door handle or another surface, food could also lead to indirect contamination through touching it. This is why everybody should follow the recommendations of public health authorities on the washing of hands.

If you want to have access to the full document you can click on the following link.

I hope that all the effort dedicated to overcome this difficulty serve as a lesson to appreciate the importance of solid a healthcare system and also how research works to give solutions to social needs.

Have a safe week.

Julian

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