Covid-19 can be transmitted through contact with an object that an infected person has touched – and some people are worried about their groceries.
The public has already been advised that it is wise to take precautions while out shopping – including shopping alone, maintaining a two metre distance from others, and washing your hands thoroughly after touching any potentially unclean surfaces.
Some people are even regularly cleaning their phones to minimise the risk of viral transmission – but do the same rules apply to the shopping you bring home?
- How likely is transmission via touching food or food packaging?
The good news is that most experts believe that the risk of Covid-19 transmission through food packaging is very low – it's the shopping trips themselves that carry a higher risk of transmission.
According to the UK government’s food safety website, it is “very unlikely” that coronavirus can be transmitted via food.
The guidelines read: “COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging."
The World Health Organisation (WHO) agrees that the risk of catching coronavirus from a package that has travelled and been exposed to different temperatures and conditions is also very low.
Stephen Baker, a professor from the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge, told the Press Association that where the virus does survive on food, it would soon die off, as it does on other surfaces.
“There is no reason to think the virus would be able to survive on food longer than any other surface,” he said.
- What are the chances of catching the virus through eating contaminated food?
Stephen Baker also added that the risk posed by ingesting any food contaminated with small amounts of the virus is "really low".
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) also says that if you cook food for the correct length of time at the correct temperature, harmful bacteria will be killed.
- How can I protect myself if I'm still worried?
If you feel particularly anxious, you can wipe tins and packaging down with antibacterial wipes.
However, the best practice to avoid viral transmission is to thoroughly wash your hands before preparing food and/or eating.
You should wash any produce using water in the usual way before preparing it.
If you're using reusable shopping bags, it would be wise to wash them after using at the supermarket.
You should also exercise precautions while at the supermarket, and wash your hands thoroughly after returning from a trip.