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Can Coronavirus spread through food?

Restaurants are closed, but takeaways are still open so is it safe to eat food prepared by somebody else?

We’ve kept a close eye on this question. Having only been around for four months, not everything is known about COVID-19 but according to several sources including UK Government, European Food Safety Authority and Food Standard Scotland there is little evidence to show that the virus can be contracted as a direct result of food consumption.

But the whole picture is a little more complicated than that.

Firstly, the virus is a respiratory infection, which means that in order to take effect on its host, it must travel down the respiratory tract (ie. on its way to the lungs). When we eat food, it travels down a different pathway – the digestive tract which leads to our stomach. The scientific consensus is that the consumption of the food itself (down the digestive tract) cannot lead to infection.

There’s more promising news for our takeaways as well as based on what we know about viruses so far, Coronavirus would be inactivated during the process of cooking.

It’s also worth noting that generally speaking, the food and drink industries are very well educated in food hygiene procedures. Regular handwashing, cooking to correct temperatures and frequent cleaning amongst other actions mean that a commercial kitchen should be the safest place to prepare food.

So far so good, food consumption sounds really safe – well mostly, but there are some risks to consider.

The primary risk appears to be from the handling and transportation of the food in its packaging. After the food has been prepared by a cook it needs to be delivered to the customer’s door. This means being packaged up and handled by a stranger. We know one of the transmission routes of COVID-19 is surface to surface transmission, so if one of a food handler contaminates the packaging with the virus before handing it over to a final customer then the virus may be transmitted to the customer’s hands. The most effective way of protecting yourself against this is to thoroughly wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds after handling any packaging.

There’s also a risk of the delivery driver and the customer coming within 2 metres of each other. Everybody has been advised to maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from everybody else, so to do this ensure that your delivery is ‘contactless’ and conducted at a safe distance.

 

In general, the overall risk of consuming food both cooked at home or delivered from a business currently appears to be low.

As more guidance becomes available on this we will update our Coronavirus blog page which can be seen by clicking here. 

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Free advice throughout Coronavirus outbreak

While the country is working hard to work through the Coronavirus crisis we are doing our best to help the independent hospitality and retail industry – which includes free advice for all businesses. Click to get in touch.

Free advice throughout Coronavirus outbreak

While the country is working hard to work through the Coronavirus crisis we are doing our best to help the independent hospitality and retail industry – which includes free advice for all businesses. Click to get in touch.

Free advice throughout Coronavirus outbreak

While the country is working hard to work through the Coronavirus crisis we are doing our best to help the independent hospitality and retail industry – which includes free advice for all businesses. Click to get in touch.

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