Are food deliveries and groceries safe during coronavirus pandemic? Yes, experts say
Presidents, mayors and governors of various states have suggested Americans should avoid restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead we’ve been told to either order delivery, takeout or carefully shop at the grocery store, which has left many people wondering: How safe is it to do all of those things as the virus spreads?
First, the good news: The virus is not likely to be transmitted by food itself, said Dr. Ian Williams, chief of the Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which investigates foodborne and waterborne illnesses.
“There is no evidence out there that, so far with [Covid-19], that its foodborne-driven or food service-driven,” Williams said in an information webinar. “This really is respiratory, person-to-person. At this point there is no evidence really pointing us towards food [or] food service as ways that are driving the epidemic.”
The US Food and Drug Administration echoed that sentiment, saying on its website that it’s not aware of any reports suggesting Covid-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.
At least that’s what we know right now, and experts have said they will continue to evaluate the virus.
However, the FDA did issue a reminder about everyone in the food supply chain following proper hygiene practices, including washing hands and surfaces regularly to keep the risk level low.
More reassuring news: There’s little risk in contracting the virus from food or food packaging picked up at a takeout window or from a restaurant, said Benjamin Chapman, who is a professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University.
“I want to be clear that food or the packages could carry the virus, but the risk of transmission is very, very low,” Chapman said. “This is a remote possibility and thousands if not millions of times less likely than any of the other exposure routes. Really, really low risk.”