The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their recommendations on food handling during this time of COVID-19. The recommendations are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. Highlights of the recommendations are:
- There continues to be no evidence that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is associated with handling food or consuming food. Coronaviruses are thought to spread mostly person-to-person through respiratory droplets when someone coughs, sneezes, or talks. The CDC continues to urge consumers to practice physical distancing (keeping a distance of 6 feet between non-family members) and wearing a face covering to help prevent spread of the disease.
- An important protection against the coronavirus is hand washing. After shopping, handling food packages, or before preparing or eating food, it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. More hand washing information is here.
The virus that causes COVID-19 cannot grow on food. Bacteria such as Salmonella can, however, grow on food so remember to always follow good food safety practices to reduce the risk of illness from foodborne pathogens. Use proper food safety practices when handling food and before, during and after preparing or eating food.
- Cook foods to proper temperatures. It is important to safely handle and continue to cook foods to their recommended cooking temperatures to prevent foodborne illness.
- Clean surfaces. Cleaning hands and surfaces with soap and water is a great way to prevent the spread of illness. If you wish, you can sanitize pots and pans or kitchen counters after cleaning. Follow these steps: clean with soap and water, rinse with clean water, sanitize. A common kitchen sanitizer is a dilute bleach solution.
- Chill. Bring perishable foods home from the grocery store and promptly refrigerate, within 2 hours. Keep meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, dairy products and other perishables cold. Harmful bacteria grow fastest in the Danger Zone between 40°F and 140°F. Keep cold foods cold.
- Separate raw meats, poultry and eggs from ready-to-eat foods like bread, deli meat, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Keep meats separated from other items at the grocery store and in your refrigerator at home.
A note about fresh produce and water.
- The virus that causes COVID-19 has not been found in drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates water treatment plants to ensure that water from city or town sources is safe to drink.
- Practice food safety when handling and preparing fresh produce.
- Gently rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under clean, running tap water. Do not use bleach or other harsh chemicals on fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Scrub uncut firm produce (e.g., potatoes, cucumbers, melons) with a clean brush, even if you don’t plan to eat the peel.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables before eating, peeling or preparing.
- Gently dry with a clean towel. Rinse fruits and vegetables just before preparing or eating.
See earlier posts for more tips on fresh produce safety!
You can subscribe to food safety updates here.