Do coronaviruses stick to lettuce, meat or beverage bottles? Many people worry about shopping or cooking. How safe is our food from the virus?
In the meantime, it has become part of everyday life that we wear a mask in the supermarket or at the bakery and that special attention is paid to hygiene everywhere. But does the food itself also pose a risk? Do you have to worry about getting infected with the coronavirus in meat, fish and food in general? The most important questions and answers at a glance:
- Can you get infected through food?
- What about food that comes from abroad?
- What is the risk with animal products?
- What should you keep in mind when handling food?
- Should you wash or disinfect fruits and vegetables with soap?
- Is it still safe to eat in a canteen or restaurant?
- Can you still order food from the delivery service?
- How dangerous are bakery shops and baking machines?
- Can dietary supplements protect against infection with the coronavirus?
- Should you store food outside for safety?
- Do you have to disinfect boxes and bags?
- What can you do to reduce the risk when shopping?
Can you get infected through food?
There is currently no evidence that Covid-19 is transmitted through meat or other foods. The greatest risk with the disease and food is that you are shopping with other people in the grocery store, who can release the virus into the air or onto objects such as shopping carts or baskets, for example.
The Robert Koch Institute explains: “Coronaviruses, which can cause respiratory diseases, are primarily transmitted via secretions from the respiratory tract. If these infectious secretions get to the hands, which then touch the face, for example, it is possible that this is also the case a transfer is taking place. “
According to the French food safety authority Anses, according to the current state of knowledge, infection with the novel corona virus via the digestive tract is not possible anyway. However, an infection of the respiratory tract when chewing contaminated food cannot be completely ruled out.
So far, however, there is no known case in which a person was infected with corona directly through food: Not through consumption and not through surface contact.
What about food that comes from abroad?
Here, too, no case is known to date. Overall, it is unlikely that the coronavirus will be passed on to goods that come from abroad.
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment also explains: “Due to the transmission routes determined so far and the relatively low environmental stability of coronaviruses, it is unlikely, according to the current state of knowledge, that imported goods such as food or commodities and toys, tools, computers, clothing or shoes are the source of an infection with the new type Could be coronavirus. “
What is the risk with animal products?
According to the World Food Organization (FAO) (Food and Agriculture Organization), so far there has been no evidence that animal products play a role in the global spread of the coronavirus. “Meat from healthy cattle that is thoroughly cooked remains a safe food,” said the organization. Even fish and seafood that meet national and international food safety requirements have so far not been a problem.
At any time, even without the coronavirus, on the other hand, it is dangerous to consume animal products of which the origin is unknown or to eat meat from animals that have died for unknown reasons. Raw game meat or uncooked dishes made from wild animal components should also not be consumed. A lot of infections can occur, which can be dangerous regardless of the coronavirus.
What should you keep in mind when handling food?
Even if transmission via contaminated food is unlikely, you should observe general rules of hygiene such as regular hand washing.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after each contact with raw food or packaging and avoid touching your face.
- Always wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly and, if possible, with running water before consumption.
- Always process raw and cooked food separately and do not use the same kitchen utensils.
- And, last but not least, heat warm food for several minutes at at least 70 degrees. To be on the safe side, you should also follow this for frozen goods, because the previously known coronaviruses SARS and MERS can theoretically remain infectious for up to two years in the frozen stage.
Should you wash or disinfect fruits and vegetables with soap?
Also, if soap destroys viruses on your skin when you wash your hands, you should definitely not use soap to wash fresh food. Disinfectants may also be useful for hands, but not for food.
It is sufficient to wash fresh fruit and vegetables under cold, running water, but swallowing soap or disinfectant can lead to symptoms of poisoning such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Is it still safe to eat in a canteen or restaurant?
At the moment restaurants are closed anyway. But even if the reopened restaurants have to adhere to strict hygiene rules, you should note that coronaviruses stick to objects longer than, for example, flu viruses.
You should therefore pay attention to a few things, especially when eating in the canteen or restaurant, because here you could get infected mainly on menu cards, trays, crockery or cutlery. You should therefore make sure to take your cutlery yourself in the canteen and wash your hands after coming into contact with the tray and cutlery. You should also pay cashless and, above all, always keep a sufficient distance from other guests.
Anyone who runs a canteen or restaurant should make sure that spices such as salt or sugar shakers, trays, but also tables, chairs and doorknobs are regularly disinfected or replaced. Online menu cards, which can be opened using a QR code on your own smartphone, are also helpful.
Can you still order food from the delivery service?
Many restaurants and snack bars also offer delivery services during lockdown, and the previous delivery services continue to operate normally. The main thing you should do when ordering food is to reduce contact with the supplier. For example, you can pay online and have your food delivered to your door.
Similar to canteens and restaurants, the same applies to delivery services that, even without the coronavirus, special hygiene must be observed during preparation so that the food reaches the customer without any problems.
How dangerous are bakery shops and baking machines?
In many bakery shops, customers can help themselves and use the same tongs one after the other or open the flaps to the goods. Viruses and bacteria can stick to tongs, handles or trays.
Many bakery shops have therefore introduced disposable gloves to protect customers.
Can dietary supplements protect against infection with the coronavirus?
There are some offers of dietary supplements that advertise with a special “Corona reference”. However, this is not permitted. This is because the following applies to food supplements and all other foods: They may only be ascribed health-promoting effects if these statements have been approved by the EU Commission after a positive scientific test by the European Food Safety Authority.
Should you store food outside for safety?
That consideration is “obviously ridiculous” according to Donald Schaffner, food safety expert at Rutgers University of Microbiology. On the contrary, storing milk, ice cream or meat outside for days is more likely to be harmful to food. The virus becomes inactive after a while at room temperature, but this procedure is only advisable if it is certain that the food is contaminated and that you could be infected by touching it.
Do you have to disinfect boxes and bags?
Schaffner cannot support this idea either. It is much more important to wash your hands thoroughly before eating, even if you think the packaging of the food could be contaminated.
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment also explains that the transmission of the virus through contact with contaminated objects or via contaminated surfaces has not yet been proven. However, transmissions through smear infections via surfaces that were recently contaminated with viruses are theoretically conceivable and cannot be ruled out.
What can you do to reduce the risk when shopping?
Many shops now offer disinfectants to disinfect shopping carts and hands. You should accept this offer and possibly also use the disinfection for tongs or handles in the bakery or the vegetable and fruit counter.
A shopping list can also help you to shop quickly and thus reduce unnecessary contact with other people. You should also adhere to the mask requirement as well as distance and hygiene rules. Try not to grab your face and wash your hands thoroughly when you return home.