After so many workers at meat processing plants and packaged food facilities (and now farmers) tested positive for coronavirus, there may be confusion as to whether or not COVID-19 is transmissible via food.
The answer? As far as we know, it isn’t. According to the United Fresh Produce Association, there is no evidence that fresh produce, or any food for that matter, can transmit COVID-19.
As Ben Chapman, a professor at N.C. State who teaches food safety explained to North Carolina Health News, the coronavirus doesn’t operate in the same way a foodborne pathogen such as E. coli does. Remember, coronavirus targets the respiratory system, and even if you did eat something that had been contaminated with an infected person’s sneeze or cough, it wouldn’t affect your lungs.
“Most of the food that we eat ends up getting right into our gut and ends up encountering a whole bunch of acid in our stomachs,” he told the outlet. “And this virus particularly doesn’t really remain infectious once it hits the stomach.”
Recent research from the CDC has even debunked the previous thought that coronavirus was highly transmissible through contaminated surfaces, namely ones made of stainless steel or plastic. Now objects and surfaces are believed to be low-risk, with many experts saying the timing has to be just right.
In an interview with NPR, Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said an infected person’s respiratory droplets would have to have landed on the same exact spot you touched and then you would have had to then touch your face in order to contract it.
While there is still a lot we don’t know about the virus, the information that we do know is that it’s highly transmissible through person to person contact, so continue to take precautions accordingly. And make sure to read Coronavirus Grocery Shopping Myths You Need to Stop Believing for more misconceptions about how the virus spreads.