COVID-19: Is the Food I Consume Still Safe?

The COVID-19 coronavirus was initially a critical problem limited to a few countries. But in the last weeks, it has developed into a global challenge. Since the virus is novel, it is not yet clear where it really comes from and whether all transmission routes are known.

Many consumers are concerned whether COVID-19 can be passed on through food. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) states that there is currently no evidence that food is a source or transmission route. The statement is based on experience with outbreaks of similar viruses such as SARS and MERS. Although the source of the virus in China was most likely of animal origin, the virus is currently commonly passed on directly through contact with an infected person's body fluids (for example, droplets from coughing or sneezing) or indirectly through surfaces which have recently been contaminated with viruses (for example, smear infections).

Observe hygiene recommendations before preparing food
It is therefore important to observe hygiene recommendations when preparing food, not only from viruses on surfaces, but also from bacteria that could lead to foodborne illness. Here are some tips on how to best protect yourself against viruses and bacteria in the kitchen:
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before preparing food
  • Clean kitchen utensils and surfaces with hot, soapy water before preparing food
  • Always wash fruits and vegetables before consuming
  • Keep hot food hot and cold foods cold
  • Make sure that you cook foods for long enough in order to kill harmful bacteria that cause illnesses. A meat thermometer can be used to check if foods are cooked to the appropriate internal temperature
  • Think about your storage methods and make sure that raw meat, fish and poultry are kept away from other foods
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