Risk of COVID-19 transmission through food and food packaging remains low, FDA says


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)– Are you still wiping down your groceries and food deliveries?

Experts are reminding people the risk of COVID-19 transmission via food and food packaging remains low.

Jay McDaniel is serious about his safety.

“I’ve been through 500 pairs of gloves since the pandemic began,” said McDaniel as he pointed out his box of gloves. 

McDaniel has to be extra cautious. He’s 69 years old with a heart condition and he hasn’t received the COVID-19 vaccine yet. So, he takes extra measures when he’s out.

“Even though I wear gloves when I get in the car, the first thing I do is spray myself down and I’m being careful,” he continued. 

Those same measures apply when it comes to his groceries. He wipes down his food and food packages.

“Usually there are a couple people handling them, and I do wipe them down at that point,” said McDaniel.

He can make some changes to his safety routine if he’s comfortable. That’s because the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Department of Agriculture said that in the more than 100 million cases of COVID-19 in the last year, there is no credible evidence of food or food packaging as a likely source of transmission of the coronavirus. 

“Every day we are seeing new data that comes out that says yes these are good practices that we’re actually doing something or no we don’t need to do those things,” explained Dr. Ben Chapman, a food and safety expert and professor at NC State.

“By now, if food or food packaging was a source, we will have some examples. We would expect to see some and we haven’t,” he continued. 

As a reminder, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is spread from person to person, unlike foodborne viruses like Hepatitis A.

Chapman said  he understands why so many people decided to disinfect their food early on in the pandemic 

“It’s hard to change someone’s safety habits. Certainly in many cases it’s not going to hurt,  but it’s probably not doing much.”

But shoppers like William Ebner never got on board with this form of a safety measure in the first place.

“I just wasn’t going to go that far. I just wasn’t I wasn’t. I wasn’t going to let it dominate my entire life. “

The CDC still recommends people to wipe down their shopping carts, clean their hands before and after leaving the grocery store, and when you’re done unpacking  your groceries, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

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