We all need to stay safe. We also all need to eat.
Many of us are concerned about food and food packaging harboring the coronavirus, and naturally some have turned to the internet for advice on how to protect themselves.
The internet is rampant with misinformation on how to keep food safe from the coronavirus. Is it safe to order takeout? Should we wipe down each package before putting it away? Should we wash our produce with soap and water? Or is diluted bleach a better solution?
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports that “there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19”. While food hasn’t been shown to be a source of transmission for the coronavirus, surfaces can be. A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that the coronavirus was detectable for up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and metal. So rather than worry about food itself, focus on following good food hygiene practices and keep social distancing when you bring groceries home or order takeout.
You can take the following steps to ensure safe food handling during covid-19:
- Pay in advance to minimize person-to-person interaction.
- Let the driver leave the food at the doorstep. Wait until the driver is at least 2 meters away before picking up the food.
- Remove the food from the containers or packages and discard. For those who want to take extra precautions or keep their packages, there is no harm in wiping down each container or package with a disinfectant wipe.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water.
- Wipe counters where you unpacked the food.
- Clean produce by scrubbing them with clean hands and cold running water only. You should not wash fruits and vegetables with soap or any other solution. That’s because produce is porous, so it can absorb soap. Ingesting soap could cause digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Food safety guidelines advise against using bleach on anything you’re going to eat as ingestion of any amount can be a major health hazard.
As with many other strategies around COVID-19, decisions about protection come down to a personal level but it is important to make informed decisions. As simple as some of these steps may be, you or your loved ones health could depend on it.