What's in our food these days

Can you get infected in the supermarket, at the bakery or at the weekly market and bring home possibly virus-contaminated food? Yes, but so-called smear infections are not the main route of transmission, according to experts. You should know that.

  1. Coronaviruses are transmitted from person to person through secretions in the respiratory tract. So-called smear infections from surfaces contaminated with viruses could also be possible, but this is not the main transmission route.
  2. Research shows that SARS-CoV-2 can survive on solid surfaces for a period of time - not just a few hours, but even days. But the tests were only carried out under laboratory conditions.
  3. Nevertheless, certain hygiene rules should be observed and implemented both when shopping and when preparing food.
Status: October 14, 2020

Can the coronavirus be transmitted through groceries or when shopping in the supermarket? According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), there have so far been no cases in which it has been proven that people have become infected with the novel coronavirus through the consumption of contaminated food or through contact with contaminated objects.

Coronaviruses are primarily passed on through secretions from the respiratory tract. If these fluids from a sick person get on the mucous membranes of another person's eyes, nose, or mouth, they can also get Covid-19.

Smear infections from surfaces possible

According to the BfR, transmission through surfaces that were recently contaminated with viruses is conceivable - through so-called smear infections. Coronaviruses could survive for a period of time from an infected person sneezing or coughing directly on surfaces. However, due to the relatively low stability of the viruses in the environment, this is only likely for a short period of time after contamination.

How long the viruses may be infectious depends on many factors: the temperature, the humidity and the material of the surface, for example. According to investigations under laboratory conditions, researchers assume from hours to a few days:

  • Plastic / plastic: up to 6 days
  • Stainless steel: up to 6 days
  • Glass: up to 3 days
  • Banknotes: up to 3 days

The longer the viruses were on the respective surface during the laboratory tests, the lower their concentration and thus also their infectious dose.

According to a recent study by Australian researchers (published in October 2020), SARS-CoV-2 could even survive on smooth surfaces for up to 28 days. An alarmingly long time, which is due, among other things, to the experimental setup. All experiments were carried out in the dark to exclude any effects of UV light. It is clear that UV radiation (sunlight) has a major influence on the survival or non-survival of the novel coronavirus on surfaces. In addition, the distributed droplets remained untouched during the entire experiment, so that they dried out much more slowly.

Prevent infections with SARS-CoV-2

You can also prevent infection with the virus when shopping. Since there are inevitably other people around, it is all the more important to comply with the hygiene rules.

  • If possible, go shopping when there are usually not that many people in the supermarket.
  • Only pick up the goods that you actually want to buy. Do not put back fresh fruits and vegetables that you have touched with your bare hands.
  • Please use the slides, tongs and disposable gloves available at the baking stations for purchasing loose baked goods.
  • If you have to stand in a queue, keep a distance (approx. 2 meters) from other people. Keep your distance at the checkout and pack your goods as quickly as possible after paying.
  • No matter where you are, whether shopping, at work, on public transport or at home: Cough and sneeze in the crook of your arm or in a handkerchief, which you then dispose of immediately.
  • As soon as you get home, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap. You do not have to wear disposable gloves while shopping. It is perfectly sufficient if you take care not to touch your face.

As enveloped viruses whose genetic material is covered by a layer of fat (lipid layer), coronaviruses are sensitive to fat-dissolving substances in soaps, detergents and dishwashing detergents, according to the BfR. The experts assume that these substances also damage the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, thereby inactivating the virus. This also applies in particular when dishes are cleaned and dried in the dishwasher at 60 degrees Celsius or higher, or washcloths and towels in the washing machine.

Observe hygiene rules when preparing food

Although it is unlikely that the virus will be transmitted through food, we advise you to observe the general hygiene rules when preparing food as a precaution, for example these:

  • Choose your groceries carefully, refrigerate them if necessary and bring your shopping home quickly.
  • Always wash your hands with warm water and soap before preparing food, including between the fingers and under the fingernails (with a brush).
  • Clean surfaces and equipment regularly and thoroughly.
  • Put kitchen towels, rags and sponges in the laundry every few days or use disposable paper towels if necessary.
  • Always wash fruit, vegetables and salad with drinking water before consumption and do not leave the food wet for a long time. If possible, the temperature of the washing water should be higher than that of the fruit or vegetables themselves. Peeling can also effectively reduce possible contamination.
  • Heating food at temperatures above 60 degrees can also prevent infections, because coronaviruses are sensitive to heat.
  • Freezing, on the other hand, does not kill the viruses. They can tolerate the cold well and survive down to minus 20 degrees Celsius.
  • Further consumer tips from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment for Protection against Food Infections

The corona virus is spreading at breakneck speed in Germany and many other countries around the world. The pandemic is shaking up our everyday lives. We have put together important information for you that will hopefully help you get through the next few weeks.
⇒ Read more: www.vzhh.de/coronavirus

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