No Transmission of COVID-19 Through Food or Food Packaging

Janet Woodcock M.D. confirms the safety of the U.S. food supply
family shopping in food store
(Coronavirus Today)

After more than a year since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a global health emergency, the US government continues to underscore that there is no credible evidence of food or food packaging associated with or as a likely source of viral transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing COVID-19, stated Janet Woodcock M.D., the Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Dr. Woodcock’s press statement issued on February 18, 2021, continues to clarify, ‘Our confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply remains steadfast.’

‘Consumers should be reassured that we continue to believe, based on our understanding of currently available reliable scientific information, and supported by overwhelming international scientific consensus, that the foods they eat and food packaging they touch are highly unlikely to spread SARS-CoV-2.’

Excerpts for this statement are inserted below.

‘It’s particularly important to note that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is spread from person to person, unlike foodborne or gastrointestinal viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food. 

While there are relatively few reports of the virus being detected on food and packaging, most studies focus primarily on detecting the virus’s genetic fingerprint rather than evidence of transmission of the virus resulting in human infection. 

Given that the number of virus particles that could be theoretically picked up by touching a surface would be minimal and the amount needed for infection via oral inhalation would be very high, the chances of infection by touching the surface of food packaging or eating food is considered to be extremely low.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the FDA share this update based upon the best available information from scientific bodies across the globe, including a continued international consensus that the risk is exceedingly low for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans via food and food packaging. 

For example, a recent opinion from the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods stated: “Despite the billions of meals and food packages handled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to date, there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging, or food-handling is a source or important transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 resulting in COVID-19.”

Also, considering the more than 100 million cases of COVID-19, we have not seen epidemiological evidence of food or food packaging as the source of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to humans. 

Furthermore, the virus transmission has not been attributed to food products or packaging through national and international surveillance systems. Food business operations continue to produce a steady supply of safe food following current Good Manufacturing Practices and preventive controls, focusing on good hygiene practices and keeping workers safe.

Based on the scientific information that continues to be made available throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the USDA and FDA continue to be confident in the safety of the food available to American consumers and exported to international customers,’ concluded Dr. Woodcock and Acting USDA Secretary Kevin Shea press comments.

The FDA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines, and other biological products for human use and medical devices.

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