Q: Does COVID-19 create food safety challenges for manufacturers and processors in the food and beverage industry?
A: Food products and food packaging are believed to pose a very low risk of COVID-19 transmission, according to the CDC. Coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spread mainly through the respiratory tract, unlike viruses that cause foodborne illnesses, which spread mainly through the digestive tract. And according to the CDC, there's no evidence that COVID-19 has spread from people working in food production facilities to people handling or consuming their products. However, as manufacturers and suppliers change their operations to help maintain the health of their employees and the safety of their workplaces in response to COVID-19, these changes may introduce new food safety hazards, requiring companies to re-evaluate and possible redesign their food safety and HACCP plans.
Q: What steps can consumers take when handling groceries and packaged food to help prevent the spread of COVID-19?
A: The CDC recommends that people take everyday actions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, even though the risk of contracting the illness by eating or handling food or food packaging is believed to be low. Most importantly, people should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after shopping or handling food packages—and before preparing or eating food. The CDC recommends that consumers do NOT use bleach, ammonia or other hard-surface disinfectants on food packaged in plastic wrap or cardboard.
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