On March 18, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hosted a stakeholder call to discuss food safety and food supply questions related to COVID-19. The agency later released a Q&A on its website addressing some of the most relevant questions for consumers and manufacturers.
Some questions deal with the worries of consumers, while others address manufacturers’ concerns. A key point of reassurance is that there is no evidence of foodborne transmission of COVID-19. Here are some other highlights from the Q&A.
Q: Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food, the food packaging, or food contact surfaces, if the coronavirus was present on it?
A: Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. It’s possible that the virus can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to wash your hands often, including utensils.
Q: Can I get COVID-19 from a food worker handling my food?
A: Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. However, the virus is spreading from person-to-person in some communities in the US. The Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that if you are sick, stay home until you are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others. The agency also advises that anyone handling, preparing and serving food should wash their hands often, and follow all other safe food handling procedures.
Q: Since restaurant workers and other service industry employees have ongoing contact with the public, are there any special precautions these workers should take to avoid becoming sick with a respiratory illness, such as wearing masks?
A: The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from COVID-19. Facemasks should be worn by individuals who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. For health workers and people who are taking care of someone with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility), the use of facemasks is also crucial.
Q: Is food imported to the US from China and other countries affected by COVID-19, at risk of spreading COVID-19?
A: Currently, there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods, and there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the US associated with imported goods.
Q: Are food products produced in the US a risk for the spread of COVID-19?
A: There is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the US can transmit COVID-19.
The FDA will continue to work with other government agencies including the CDC and Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to keep food manufacturers and consumers up to date with the latest on COVID-19.