- The new coronavirus can survive on many surfaces, but there is no evidence that it can infect people who eat food that may contain drops of SARS-CoV-2.
- A lengthy report explains why food, whether cooked at home or delivered from a restaurant, cannot provide you with COVID-19.
- Personal hygiene and social distancing are still recommended, as the process of obtaining food includes interacting with at least one person.
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The new coronavirus is very dangerous because it can be easily passed from person to person. The fact that it can survive up to a few hours in the air and up to three days on certain surfaces only helps transmission. But, and this is crucial, the virus has to find a way to jump from those surfaces into the eyes, nose, or mouth, after which it will nest inside the throat on its way to its favorite place, the lungs. That's where the real fun for the SARS-CoV-2 virus begins, and it's up to your immune system to fight it, whether the drugs help you or not. As long as you stay away from other people and wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with plenty of soap, the virus has no chance of infecting you.
But what if those little drops get into the food that someone else has prepared for you? What if a delivery person has COVID-19, but they just don't know it? What if the virus somehow reaches the food you make at home? These are valid questions that are sure to increase your blood pressure and paranoia. But the answer for all of them is that the chance of getting COVID-19 from food is incredibly small. In fact, a particular set of events has to occur to obtain the new coronavirus from whatever type of food you are about to eat, regardless of the source.
Food expert J. Kenji López-Alt has an excellent question and answer section at Eat seriously. He teamed up with North Carolina State University food safety specialist Ben Chapman to explain everything about the coronavirus and food. And the duo concludes that it is highly unlikely that they will get COVID-19 from what they eat.
The lengthy report indicates that while there is insufficient data on how long the virus can survive in food, SARS-CoV-2 is more likely to stay alive on non-porous surfaces such as plastic and decompose on organic surfaces, such as cardboard and food. A recent study has shown that the SARS strain can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard, but that just means that you must treat everything that enters your home as a contaminant and give it once more once with disinfectant and soap. Or designate a quarantine where you can drop off packages and mail them for a few days before opening them. Also, you should always wash your hands when you return home from a grocery store, and after handling the packages, a delivery person simply left you.
Do you remember those questions from before? Eat seriously It has answers for all of them, so let's visit again:
What happens if those small drops reach the food that someone else has prepared for you? What if a delivery person has COVID-19, but they just don't know it?
According to multiple health and safety organizations worldwide, including the CDC, the USDA, and the European Food Safety Authority, there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 has spread through food or food packaging. Previous coronavirus epidemics also showed no evidence of spread through food or packaging.
There is insufficient evidence to conclusively demonstrate that food cannot transmit COVID-19, but the empirical evidence we have says that this is not the case. Even if the food is contaminated while it is being prepared or in transit, any amount of virus that may be present will end up in your stomach, not your lungs.
Let's say a food worker coughs while preparing my food, how could I not get the virus from eating it? This also confused me, so I specifically asked about it. According to Chapman, the risk is minimal. Even if a worker sneezes directly into a bowl of raw vegetable salad before packing it into a take-home food container, gross though it is, they are unlikely to get sick.
This 2018 summary of the observational experimental study of respiratory viruses from the scientific journal Current Opinion in Virology (COVIRO) explains that respiratory viruses reproduce throughout the respiratory tract, a different pathway than that followed by food from the digestive tract when Swallows. And while you might say you just inhaled that salad, you're more likely to have eaten it with a fork and swallowed it.
Eating with your hands is also safe, although it is better to have clean silverware.
In this situation, the viral load has been diluted several times. First, when it was transferred from the board to the hamburger bun. Next, more viral load was removed when the bun was placed in the take-out container. It is diluted again when you pick up the burger before interacting with your face in inadvisable ways. While he did not rule out the possibility of contracting the disease in this way, Chapman described it as "a shot in the moon, even before touching his face."
What if the virus somehow reaches the food you make at home?
In reality, it is riskier to buy your own food because that means leaving the house, touching all kinds of surfaces and interacting with people. But it is not for the food itself.
You should avoid touching your face and any surface that you don't have to do. Once you get home, wash your hands, change your clothes, and wash your hands again. Then start unpacking everything and sanitize things in the process. So … you guessed it … wash your hands a little more.
The same goes for preparing your meals. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. Finally, go for hot meals, since cooking or reheating food will also kill any SARS-CoV-2 that does on your food:
The temperatures and times for the coronavirus have not yet been fully investigated, but scientists suggest that a temperature of 149 ° F (65 ° C) for at least 3 minutes is sufficient. Experts assume that the virus will respond like other pathogens and that higher temperatures will require shorter times, but we currently have no experimental data to prove it.
The bottom line is that even foods with sprayed invisible coronaviruses are unlikely to infect you. But if you still have more questions, you really should check out the full questions and answers at Eat seriously.