Can COVID-19 be transmitted by food or food packaging?
Current advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), and both Australian and New Zealand Governments, is that there is no evidence that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can be transmitted by food. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease spread from human-to-human, and there is no evidence to suggest that people have become infected by swallowing the virus in, or on, food or drink. Can COVID-19 be transmitted through food?
COVID-19 is not a foodborne disease. There's no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food and no reported cases of COVID-19 have been linked to contamination of food.
The main risk of transmission is from close contact with infected people. The best approach is to practice social distancing and to maintain good personal hygiene at all times. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water and avoid touching your face to reduce your risk.
Do I need to wash my fruit and vegetables before use?
It is always a good idea to wash fresh fruit and vegetables under running water before eating.
Use of soap, disinfectants or detergents to wash your food is not recommended. These cleaning products are not designed for human consumption and may actually be unsafe to use with food.
Is meat safe? It is suspected COVID-19 may have originated in animals. It is not likely to be transmitted to humans from meat in Australia. WHO recommends cooking meat properly and not eating any meat from diseased animals. In Australia all meat sold is subject to strict controls, including requirements that prohibit the use of meat and offal from diseased animals for human consumption. As such, it is unlikely that extra precautions need to be taken for meat in Australia to prevent COVID-19 transmission. All raw meat can contain other microorganisms that cause food poisoning. It is important that we continue good food hygiene practices such as taking care to prevent cross contamination and cooking meats, especially mince and chicken, thoroughly. Is there a risk of COVID-19 transmission from food packaging?
Food packaging is not known to present any specific risk of transmission.
It is not yet confirmed how long this virus survives and/or remains detectable on surfaces but studies suggest it may be between a few hours and up to several days depending on the type of surface, temperature and humidity of the environment.
Surfaces can be sanitised with common household disinfectants (e.g. alcohol-based sanitiser or bleach).
Continuing to maintain good food safety practices when handling any food is always recommended.