There is no particular need to wipe down food packaging after returning home from a shopping trip during the coronavirus crisis, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). With consumers concerned about recent studies suggesting that the deadly contagion can live on certain surfaces for hours or even days, the FDA has posted this advisory at its website:
“We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.”
The novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food.
“Again, there is no evidence of food packaging being associated with the transmission of Covid-19,” the FDA reiterates. “However, if you wish, you can wipe down product packaging and allow it to air dry, as an extra precaution.”
Additional advice offered by the Silver Spring, Maryland-headquartered federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services includes:
- Regularly clean and sanitize kitchen counters using a commercially available disinfectant product or a DIY sanitizing solution with five tablespoons (1/3rd cup) unscented liquid chlorine bleach to one gallon of water or four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Do not use this solution or other disinfecting products on food.
- Wear a face covering or mask while shopping in supermarkets or other retail food shops. Some stores and localities may require it. Check your state, county or city guidelines for any other requirements.
- Carry your own wipes, or use one provided by the store to wipe down the handles of the shopping cart or basket. If you use reusable shopping bags, ensure they are cleaned or washed before each use.
- Practice social distancing while shopping – keeping at least 6 feet between you, other shoppers, and store employees. Keep your hands away from your face.
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds when you return home and again after you put away your groceries.
For more information, visit www.fda.gov.