Can SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus be caught by eating?
Text updated on 2020-10-05
During a meal, the main risk of COVID-19 contamination is when interacting with others. Cooked foods, peeled and rinsed fruit/vegetables are not contaminants.
Transmission COVID-19 to the table. Epidemiological studies have shown that people have been infected after eating with their families or even just by eating out a few meters away from a table where there was an infectious person who was not coughing.
Cautionary measure. If food is cooked at high temperatures or boiled, the virus is inactivated and there is no risk. For fresh vegetables to be stored in the refrigerator, the general hygiene recommendation, even outside of the pandemic, is to wash them thoroughly with water and rinse them thoroughly before drying and storing them. Absolutely avoid bleach and all toxic detergents, which are extremely dangerous if swallowed!
Thoroughly wash your hands and all surfaces and utensils used for cooking. If someone has COVID-19 or has symptoms, it is best that they not to do the cooking. If you are cooking or handling food for people who do not live with you (for example, at work), wear a mask and clean gloves - use the gloves only when touching food!
- At the beginning of October 2020, we found NO scientific article describing a case of contamination of Covid-19 by a food, and even no "preprint" (draft article submitted for evaluation, but not yet validated). We are well aware that "absence of evidence is not proof of absence". However, this coronavirus and its transmission are being studied by thousands of doctors and scientists around the world. Since no publication shows any transmission through food, this means that this route of contamination is rare or non-existent. We have therefore modified our answer to this question (written before the summer of 2020) to take this fact into account. However, meals are often contaminated by vectors other than food (sprays, aerosols, contacts).
In one restaurant, a pre-symptomatic COVID-19 person contaminated at least two other people more than 2 meters away, who were eating at two adjacent tables. Note that the space on the third floor of the restaurant was enclosed and ventilation must have contributed to the spread of the viral particles.Lu, J., Gu, J., Li, K., Xu, C., Su, W., Lai, Z., ... & Yang, Z. (2020). COVID-19 Outbreak Associated with Air Conditioning in Restaurant, Guangzhou, China, 2020. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 26(7).
Several cases of COVID-19 infections in January-February 2020 in South Korea were due to contamination during a family meal or at a restaurant/café.Kong, I., Park, Y., Woo, Y., Lee, J., Cha, J., Choi, J., ... & Kim, T. (2020). Early epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 28 cases of coronavirus disease in South Korea. Osong Public Health Res Perspect, 11(1), 8-14.
Several people from the same family were contaminated after two family reunion dinners.Ye, F., Xu, S., Rong, Z., Xu, R., Liu, X., Deng, P., ... & Xu, X. (2020). Delivery of infection from asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 in a familial cluster. International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Several cases of contamination at family meals in China. Note that the space on the third floor of the restaurant was enclosed and ventilation must have contributed to the spread of viral particles.Liu, Y., Eggo, R. M., & Kucharski, A. J. (2020). Secondary attack rate and superspreading events for SARS-CoV-2. The Lancet, 395(10227), e47.
SARS-CoV-2 is inactivated in 5 minutes at 70°C, but it resists well at 4°C.Chin, A., Chu, J., Perera, M., Hui, K., Yen, H. L., Chan, M., ... & Poon, L. (2020). Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions. medRxiv.