Can the new coronavirus be transmitted by food?
The European Food Safety Authority, when assessing the risk in other epidemics of the same virus family, found no evidence.
By: Ascom / Anvisa
Publicado: 21/03/2020 16:26
Last Modified: 21/03/2020 17:15 PM
A recurring question is whether the new coronavirus can be transmitted through food. The answer is: there is no evidence in this regard. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), when assessing this risk in other epidemics caused by viruses of the same family, concluded that there was no transmission by food.
According to the World Health Organization, WHO, the behavior of the new coronavirus must be similar to other types of the same family. Therefore, it needs a host - animal or human - to multiply. In addition, this group of viruses is sensitive to the temperatures normally used for cooking food (around 70ºC).
The dynamics of this pandemic show that transmission has occurred from person to person, through close contact with an infected individual or through indirect contagion, that is, through contaminated surfaces and objects, mainly through the coughing and sneezing of infected people.
The fact is that the virus can persist for a few hours or several days, depending on the surface, temperature and humidity of the environment, but it is eliminated by cleaning or disinfecting. Therefore, one of the most important strategies to avoid exposure is to redouble hygiene care. Basic care in food handling, in fact, prevents a number of other diseases.
Basic hygiene principles
In food services and domestic environments, it is important to observe the following basic hygiene principles:
1- Whoever prepares food should wash their hands frequently and, especially, after:
- Coughing, sneezing, scratching or blowing your nose.
- Scratch your eyes or touch your mouth.
- Prepare raw foods such as meat, vegetables and fruits.
- Handling cell phone, money, garbage, keys, door handles, among other objects.
- Go to the toilet.
- Return from breaks.
2- When washing your hands, use plenty of running water and liquid soap or another product intended for the same purpose (read the information on the packaging). Don't forget to rub all areas of the hands, including the tips and regions between the fingers, in addition to the wrists. Know the guidelines for correct hand hygiene.
3- Keep your nails short, without enamels, and do not use adornments that can accumulate dirt and microorganisms, such as rings, wedding rings and watches.
4- Do not talk, sneeze, cough, sing or whistle over food, surfaces or utensils. The recommendation applies to the time of preparation and serving.
5- The surfaces and utensils that come into contact with food must be clean. Use sanitizers, that is, cleaning products properly regularized at Anvisa and that are indicated for the respective purpose. For this, check the information on the product packaging.
6- Pay more attention to the cleaning of surfaces or utensils after handling raw meat or unwashed vegetables. These foods are recognized as a source of contamination for foodborne diseases (DTAs).
7- When a person with an infectious disease is going to manipulate a food, it is necessary to evaluate if there is a risk of the disease agent being transmitted. In food services, the disease must be reported to the supervisor, who will provide guidance on how to proceed.
8- Cook food well, since many of the disease-transmitting agents are sensitive to heat. In the case of foods that are usually eaten raw, extra attention should be paid to the origin and hygiene.
9- Do not use and do not buy products with crumpled, stuffed, rusted, cracked packaging, with holes or leaks, torn, open or with any other type of defect. Clean the packaging thoroughly before opening it.
Food services: the approved care is contained in the rules approved by the Health Surveillance, including the Resolution of the Collegiate Board (RDC) 216/2004, which provides for the Technical Regulation of Good Practices for Food Services. Also check out the Anvisa Food Library.
For further information on hygiene care in food preparation and on Good Practices in Food Services, see the Primer on Good Practices for Food Services.
Note: Anvisa offers a free online course on good practices for food handlers. Access.