Food Safety Focus (168th Issue, July 2020) – Food Incident Highlight
Food Packaging and COVID-19 Transmission
In June, there was a patient infected with COVID-19 who affixed labels on imported food products at a local warehouse. This has raised public concern about whether COVID-19 can be transmitted through food packaging.
According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is spread primarily by contacting respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing of patients. Even though experimental evidence indicated that the virus can survive on surfaces such as plastic or cardboard, covonaviruses cannot multiply in food. So far there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 transmitted through food or food packaging. It is unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 through handling food or food packaging.
While consumers may choose to sanitise product packaging, it is more important to practise good personal and environmental hygiene in order to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The public and the trade should wash hands frequently, especially before and after handling food. In addition, workers should refrain from work if having symptoms. Cook food thoroughly before consmphion can in general reduce the risk of foodborne diseases.