Does coronavirus live on food? How to clean your groceries and stay safe when food shopping - GulfToday

Does coronavirus live on food? How to clean your groceries and stay safe when food shopping

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This photo is used for illustrative purpose.

Gulf Today Report

With lockdown conditions imposed worldwide daily routines have come to halt with activities such as food shopping being kept to a bare minimum.

Some of the biggest public concerns surrounding the outbreak so far have been related to supermarkets, from whether essential groceries and household items will remain in good supply to how to stay safe while we shop.

By now, people have become used to taking precautions such as washing their hands regularly and practising safe social distancing but with online delivery slots fully booked for weeks ahead, venturing out to the shop is a necessity.

Supermarkets are notoriously busy places that are filled with products touched by a number of people and while retailers are doing their best to employ measures to help shoppers keep their distance from one another, customers are left wondering what the risk of exposure to the virus is when doing their shopping.


Here is everything you need to know about grocery shopping amid the outbreak.

Does coronavirus live on food?

According to the government’s food safety website, it is “very unlikely” that you can catch coronavirus from food.

“COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging”, the guidelines read.

Stephen Baker, a professor from the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge, told that while it is possible the virus could survive on food as it would do on other surfaces, it soon dies off.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) adds that cooking food at the right temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed.


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How much of a risk does packaging pose?

According to the World Health Organisation, the risk of catching the virus that causes Covid-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also very low.

The recommendations are in line with advice from the NHS which advises people to wash all fruit and vegetables before eating them to ensure they are clean and safe to consume.

How safe is it to order food that is prepared elsewhere?

The FSA has reminded outlets to adhere to its Food Safety Management System (FSMS), which includes guidelines on stressing the importance of employees frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, washing their hands and practicing good hygiene in food preparation and handling areas.

These procedures should mean that there is minimal risk from a freshly cooked takeaway meal.

For those concerned about takeaway packaging, Professor Bloomfield advises “emptying the contents [into a clean dish], disposing of the packaging into a refuse bag and washing your hands thoroughly before you eat”.

“Take food out of a container with a spoon and eat it with a knife and fork – not your fingers,” she adds.

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