The global spread of Covid-19 and confusion created by the pandemic have changed a lot about how we conduct our daily routines.
From repeated and almost obsessive hand-washing to leaving our shoes at the door and various forms of social distancing – including the way we order and receive online food deliveries – the prevention goalposts continue to shift.
So, what’s the latest on the virus lingering on your food packages and other surfaces, and should you be disinfecting grocery containers that enter your home?
The good news, according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is that there’s no evidence that anyone has contracted the new coronavirus through food.
Concurring with the CDC, Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist and professor at Harvard Medical School, told The Guardian: “We know the virus can remain viable on surfaces for hours or even days, so there’s a hypothetical risk of transmission through touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.”
Reinforcing the earliest preventative measure against contracting the virus, Marcus said: “Better than disinfecting, the thing we keep saying over and over again is to just wash your hands.”
However, with many us already familiar with the widely publicised preliminary findings that the coronavirus can live for several days, a certain level of paranoia exists and the mantra that prevention is better than cure still prevails.
When The Citizen recently spoke to California-based chef and restauranteur Nick Liberato, who is also the producer and host of Netflix’s new show, Restaurants on the Edge, he said restaurants and online grocers were already taking precautions, but urged customers to practice distancing.
“For guests receiving food at home would be to clearly meet outside the front door, six feet apart wearing gloves and a mask. Maybe set up a table for all deliveries to be placed on. We are all in this together clearly so no need to make anyone feel weird.”
Donald W Schaffner, a food microbiologist and professor at Rutgers University, told The Guardian that while there’s currently no evidence that the virus is spread through food, this could change.
“There’s no evidence that it’s spread through food packaging. That doesn’t mean that we might not learn new evidence tomorrow that would change our thoughts on that, but right now that’s what we believe,” Schaffner said.
For now, though, food safety experts advise people to only wash their produce with water and not household dishwashing soap or surface disinfectants.