There's no evidence that the new coronavirus can spread through food or food packaging, U.S. health officials say.
Of the more than 100 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, there hasn't been any epidemiological evidence of food or food packaging as the source of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) transmission to humans, and national and international surveillance systems have found no signs of such transmission.
"After more than a year since the coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19] outbreak was declared a global health emergency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to underscore that there is no credible evidence of food or food packaging associated with or as a likely source of viral transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 [SARS-CoV-2], the virus causing COVID-19," Acting USDA Secretary Kevin Shea and Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said in a statement.
"Our confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply remains steadfast. Consumers should be reassured that we continue to believe, based on our understanding of currently available reliable scientific information, and supported by overwhelming international scientific consensus, that the foods they eat and food packaging they touch are highly unlikely to spread SARS-CoV-2."
They said it's "particularly important to note that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is spread from person to person, unlike foodborne or gastrointestinal viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A, that often make people ill through contaminated food."
A recent opinion from the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods stated: "Despite the billions of meals and food packages handled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to date there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging or food handling is a source or important transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 resulting in COVID-19."
That's supported by additional literature reviews and analyses from other countries.
"Based on the scientific information that continues to be made available over the course of the pandemic, the USDA and FDA continue to be confident in the safety of the food available to American consumers and exported to international customers," Shea and Woodcock concluded.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on how COVID-19 spreads.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, Feb. 18, 2021