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Can coronavirus spread through food or packaging?

Coronavirus

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – As the global coronavirus pandemic continues, the thought of possibly catching the coronavirus may have crossed your mind as you weave your way through grocery store aisles or pick up some takeout at your local restaurant.

But according to health officials, this is something you don’t need to worry about.

At this time there is no evidence of coronavirus transmitting through food or packaging, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The virus is mainly spread from person-to-person via droplets that linger in the air after a sneeze or cough, according to the CDC.

“Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission,” the FDA says.

However, the virus could spread by an infected food employee who doesn’t properly wash their hands after using the bathroom, according to Harvard Medical School’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 has also been detected in the stool of certain people,” a statement from the resource center reads. “So we currently cannot rule out the possibility of the infection being transmitted through food by an infected person who has not thoroughly washed their hands.”

The virus would also likely be killed by cooking, but room temperature foods like salads or sandwiches could potentially harbor it, the school said.

Benjamin Chapman, a professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, told Live Science the virus probably wouldn’t survive digestion either because of the acidity in the stomach.

According to the FDA, the virus also can’t live on imported food packaging. Rather, it could only survive on a surface for a short period of time, which, depending on the surface, could be from a few hours to a few days.

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