Can your food give you COVID-19?
Dr. Stephen Berger, co-founder of the Global Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology Network, offered these insights into the coronavirus-food connection.
QUESTION: Can the coronavirus be transmitted through food? If so, how?
ANSWER: No cases of COVID-19 have been associated with ingestion of food, but the question is well-founded. COVID-19 is, after all, caused by a virus which enters the body through the nose or mouth. Food items are, after all, objects which may be contaminated with the virus and placed in the mouth — but like many other viruses, bacteria and parasites, these will be swallowed and most likely destroyed by stomach acids. Should the virus survive into the intestine, there is no pathway which will carry it to the lungs.
To enter the respiratory system to produce disease, the virus would have to travel from the mouth through the larynx and into the lungs. It is thought that acquisition of COVID-19 through this route rarely, if ever, occurs.
Q: If COVID-19 is on food, can it be killed by cooking?
A: SARS virus, a close relative of the virus of COVID-19, is inactivated at temperatures of 132.8 to 149 degrees; most cooked food is in or above that temperature range.
Q: Is there anything specific that makes the coronavirus harder to eliminate from food?
A: Not really. Routine practices of hygiene, storage, cleansing and cooking will also help eliminate this virus from our food.
Q: So can you acquire COVID-19 from food?
A: The bottom line answer is … no.