LA Times Cooking Editor, Genevieve Ko, turned to GIDEON founder, Dr. Stephen Berger, to get an expert opinion about COVID-19 and food transmission. Dr. Berger provided answers to some common questions people are asking such as:
- Can COVID-19 be transmitted through food? If so, how?
Dr. Berger: There have been no cases of COVID-19 associated with the ingestion of food, but the question is well-founded. COVID-19 is, after all, caused by a virus that 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, no pathway will carry it to the lungs.
- Can COVID-19 be transmitted in the process of consuming food or only through the respiratory system?
Dr. Berger: The virus of COVID-19 must enter the respiratory system to produce disease. There is the possibility that material could 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.
- If COVID-19 is on food, can it be killed by cooking? If so, at what temperatures?
Dr. Berger: SARS virus, a close relative of the virus of COVID-19, is inactivated at temperatures of 56 to 65 degrees Celsius (132.8 to 149 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Can you acquire COVID-19 from food?
Dr. Berger: The bottom line answer is … no.
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