As the deadly coronavirus outbreak continues, you must be wondering how safe it is to consume food at restaurants. As people are avoiding going to the public places and the sales of poultry too have fallen down dramatically in certain cities, it is obvious that people would think twice before eating out. Now the question is – Can COVID-19 be passed on through food?
Experience with SARS and MERS suggest that people are not infected with coronavirus through food. So, it is unlikely that the virus is passed on through food. Also, there is no evidence yet of this happening with COVID-19 to date.
According to a query answered by FSAI, “Coronaviruses need a host (animal or human) to grow in and cannot grow in food. Thorough cooking is expected to kill the virus because we know that a heat treatment of at least 30min at 60ºC is effective with SARS.”
Coronaviruses are most commonly passed between animals and people and from person to person. It is either passed on directly through contact with an infected person’s body fluids like, droplets from coughing or sneezing. It can also be passed on indirectly, through contact with surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on.
So, though the virus can’t be passed on via food, infected food workers could introduce virus to the food they are working on, or onto surfaces within the food business, by coughing and sneezing, or through hand contact, unless they strictly follow good personal hygiene practices.
Also, sharing food could prove dangerous. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist with the University of Toronto and the University Health Network said, “If people are sharing food, the virus may contaminate the food that they’re eating or on the fork or knife that they’re sharing. And that’s a perfect way to transmit this to other people.”
Bogoch further said, “People should be very mindful about having impeccable hand hygiene,” he said. “I think it’s also important now more than ever to have more of a social responsibility. If people feel unwell, don’t go out…There’s no point in getting other people sick. It’s OK to stay home if you don’t feel well.”