BEIJING, March 26 (Xinhua) — In the context of the current pandemic of new coronavirus pneumonia, people are full of doubts about the way the virus is transmitted. When you’re looking for fast food in the narrow aisles of a grocery store, or enjoying a takeaway, you might have a question: Are we infected with this new coronavirus because of food?
Experts say there is no evidence that coavid virus disease (COVID-19) was transmitted through food in 2019. “There is no evidence that food or packaging is one of the causes of COVID-19 infection,” said Benjamin Chapman, a professor at North Carolina State University and a food safety expert. He also stressed that there is still much we don’t know about the new coronary pneumonia and the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes the disease. As more information emerges, our understanding of the spread of the disease and food risks may also change.
However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 appears to be mainly through virus particles transmitted when coughing or sneezing. Although in theory, the new coronavirus can be transmitted by touching the surface of a contaminated object and then touching the nose, mouth or eyes, the CDC believes this is not the main mode of transmission.
Why is the risk of food transmission low?
Even if the new coronavirus is present in food, or food workers are infected, there are several factors that may reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading through food.
First, the adoption of food safety measures to prevent foodborne diseases will reduce the transmission of any viral particles through food, including frequent hand washing, washing food surfaces and utensils, and cooking food to the appropriate temperature. ‘In today’s food world, we’ve considered a lot of food safety-related issues and have been working to prevent pathogens from being transmitted from food to humans for a certain period of time, ‘ Mr. Chapman said in an interview.
Another factor is the biological properties of the new coronavirus. Some foodborne viruses, such as norovirus, can survive longer (days to weeks) on surfaces and in food, and preliminary studies have found that the new coronavirus may survive for hours to days on some surfaces. Unlike bacteria, viruses cannot grow in food, so the number of viruses in food decreases over time, not increases.
In addition, this type of virus is theoretically difficult to survive in the acidic stomach. “It’s good news about food,” Chapman said. Nevertheless, the extent to which people are infected with the new coronavirus through oral contact or through eating contaminated food remains unclear. Chapman says this is not to say that it is completely impossible to infect COVID-19 through food, “there is always this possibility.” But I want to make the best risk management decisions based on the best science and evidence, and we don’t have any evidence in that at the moment. “
Notes on groceries and takeaways during the outbreak
Although the risk of contracting a new coronavirus from food may be low, there are steps you can take to further reduce risk, and here are some simple suggestions.
Washing fresh fruits and vegetables with water is always right, even without a new coronavirus pandemic, which can remove dirt, debris and pesticides from food and lower levels of foodborne bacteria; there is no need to wash food with soap, “soap is for hand, not for food,” Chapman says.
If you are worried about food packaging, you can wash your hands carefully after handling the packaging. If you’re concerned about the safety of food, you can heat it for three minutes at 65 degrees Celsius, which can significantly reduce the level of any virus particles, Chapman said.
Food risk from restaurants is really low because food industry employees have raised awareness of food safety. To further reduce risk, we can wash our hands after handling food packaging or takeaway bags. Employers in the food industry also need strong employee health measures, which are important for food safety and the health of others. If food workers and takeaway dispatchers start to feel unwell, they should seek medical help immediately. (Any day)