MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Many have worried about the effect of coronavirus, or COVID-19, on food.
The NC State Extension has fact sheets available for questions about staying safe while grocery shopping or ordering takeout. According to the sheets, health officials are not aware of any reports that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. However, to minimize risk, social distancing should be practiced when ordering or shopping for food, and anyone who handles food packaging should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after.
When shopping for food or going to a restaurant to pick up takeout, customers should use hand sanitizer before entering the building and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer upon leaving. Anyone who has symptoms of the virus or thinks they have been exposed should not go food shopping or enter a restaurant.
More resources for food safety are listed here.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also providing answers to frequently asked questions regarding food production:
Will there be food shortages?
There are no nationwide shortages of food, although in some cases the inventory of certain foods at your grocery store might be temporarily low before stores can restock. Food production and manufacturing are widely dispersed throughout the U.S. and there are currently no wide-spread disruptions reported in the supply chain.
FDA is closely monitoring the food supply chain for any shortages in collaboration with industry and our federal and state partners. We are in regular contact with food manufacturers and grocery stores.
Is food imported to the United States from China and other countries affected by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), at risk of spreading COVID-19?
Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.
Are food products produced in the United States a risk for the spread of COVID-19?
There is no evidence to suggest that food produced in the United States can transmit COVID-19.
Is the U.S. food supply safe?
Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.
Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness and not gastrointestinal illness, and foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. That’s why it’s always critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill.
For more FAQ from the FDA, visit this link.
WSFA 12 News has also put together a list of resources for people in Alabama.
If you develop symptoms for the coronavirus and need to be tested, call 1-888-264-2256.