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Transmission of COVID-19 by food and food packaging

There’s no evidence you can get the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through food or food packaging.

This current advice comes from the World Health Organization (WHO), other international health and food safety authorities, and both Australian and New Zealand Governments.

Transmission through food

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease spreading from person to person. It’s not a foodborne disease. There’s no evidence to suggest people will get infected by swallowing the virus in, or on, food or drink.

The main risk of transmission is from close contact with infected people. The best approach is to practise 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 risk of infection.

Washing fruit and vegetables

It’s always a good idea to wash fresh fruit and vegetables under running water before eating. Don’t use soap, disinfectants or detergents to wash your food. These cleaning products aren’t designed for human consumption. They may actually be unsafe to use with food.

Safety of meat

It is suspected COVID-19 may have originated in animals. It’s not likely transmission to humans occurs through meat in Australia.

WHO recommends properly cooking meat and not eating any meat from diseased animals.

In Australia all meat sold is subject to strict controls. These include requirements prohibiting the use of meat and offal from diseased animals for human consumption. It’s unlikely that you need to take extra precautions for meat in Australia to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

All raw meat can contain other microorganisms that cause food poisoning. It’s always important to maintain good food safety with raw meat. Be careful to prevent cross contamination and cook meats properly, especially mince and chicken.

Transmission from food packaging

Food packaging hasn’t presented any specific risk of transmission. It’s not yet confirmed how long the virus survives or remains detectable on surfaces. Studies suggest it may be a few hours or up to several days. This depends on the type of surface, temperature and humidity of the environment.

Surfaces can be sanitised with common household disinfectants such as alcohol-based sanitiser or bleach.

We always recommend good food safety practices when handling any food.

Read more topics on Novel Coronavirus and Food Safety.

Page last updated: 1 May 2020


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