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FDA Says You Can't Contract COVID-19 From This Item at the Grocery Store

Grocery shopping during the pandemic might now be a little less stressful.
Woman shopping for meat

A rare joint statement from the FDA and the USDA revealed some much-needed encouraging news amid the coronavirus pandemic and the now, suddenly stressful experience of grocery shopping. It turns out that there is zero evidence that the coronavirus can be contracted from food or food packaging.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started in early spring, there has been grave concern about potentially contracting the COVID-19 contagion during a trip to the store. Recent research has revealed that the real risk comes from the transmission of moist, aerosolized droplets spreading in a high-trafficked and poorly ventilated indoor area—not unlike a grocery store. But, transmission from food or food packaging, which was initially thought to be a risk, has been virtually nonexistent, according to the federal government statement.

"There is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging," read a joint statement by Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, and Stephen Hahn, the commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration. This statement is consistent with a recent report from the Mayo Clinic that stated they aren't aware of anyone contracting COVID-19 after touching food containers, packaging, or shopping bags.

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"The United States understands the concerns of consumers here domestically and around the world who want to know that producers, processors and regulators are taking every necessary precaution to prioritize food safety especially during these challenging times," the statement opens.

Perdue and Hahn then noted how some foreign nations, such as China, have scaled back on food exports because of COVID-19, despite contradictions over how it is transmitted. "However, efforts by some countries to restrict global food exports related to COVID-19 transmission are not consistent with the known science of transmission," they said. (Related: China Tests Food for Coronavirus After Outbreak From This One Item.)

So, while cases continue to surge across the nation, consider this to be some rare, encouraging coronavirus news. Going to the grocery store can still present some risk so you should take the important safety precautions, but the odds of contracting COVID-19 from food or food packaging? It seems to be slim to nil.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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