Acting U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Kevin Shea and Acting U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. recently released a statement on the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The statement says that epidemiologic and scientific information indicate that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted through food or food packaging.
Shea and Woodcock reassured consumers that the USDA and FDA continue to believe, based on the scientific information currently available, that foods they consume and packaging they touch are highly unlikely to spread SARS-CoV-2.
The chances of infection by touching food packaging or eating food is considered to be very low, given the number of virus particles that could theoretically be picked up by touching a surface. The amount needed for infection via oral inhalation would be very high.
A recent opinion from the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods stated: “Despite the billions of meals and food packages handled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to date there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging or food handling is a source or important transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 resulting in COVID-19.” Additional literature reviews and analyses from other countries agree.
Food business operations continue to produce safe food following current Good Manufacturing Practices, focusing on good hygiene and keeping its workers safe.
Based on the information that becomes more and more available over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the USDA and FDA are confident in the safety of food that American consumers eat, as well as American food exported to international customers.