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Publication #FSHN20-7

COVID-19 FAQ for Food Banks: Receiving Food and Cleaning1

Natalie Seymour, Mary Yavelak, Candice Christian, and Ben Chapman2

This flyer is best viewed as a PDF. It provides guidance for food banks regarding COVID-19. Updated March 30, 2020.

CAN COVID-19 BE SPREAD THROUGH FOOD?

  • Transmission of COVID-19 through food, food packages or even food handlers has not been identified as a risk factor for this illness

  • Evidence suggests it may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces. CDC recommends cleaning followed by disinfection as a best practice for prevention of COVID-19.

IS IT SAFE TO ACCEPT FOOD FROM COUNTRIES OR STATES IMPACTED BY COVID-19?

  • With decades of data related to influenza, another similar respiratory virus, there is no data to indicate that food distribution channels like grocery stores or distribution warehouses are transmission nodes.

  • Currently, there is no data to suggest that accepting food from an area impacted by COVID-19 is a risk factor for disease spread.

SHOULD FOOD PACKAGES BE CLEANED BEFORE THEY ARE USED?

  • Continue routine operating procedures in evaluating the integrity of packaging as well as for any soil are already in place.

  • Follow risk management practices including hand hygiene regimens of handwashing followed by hand sanitizer according to CDC guidelines.

HOW SHOULD CLEANING AND DISINFECTION BE HANDLED?

  • Volunteers and staff should wash hands and use hand sanitizer regularly.

  • Disinfect surfaces like railings, doorknobs, tables, baskets, etc. on a regular basis.

  • Use non-porous plastic tables that can be easily disinfected whenever possible.

  • CDC is advising use of disinfectants on the EPA list, which can be found at: go.ncsu.edu/epacovid-19. (Note: this list is based on current data, but compounds have not been validated for inactivation of the virus causing COVID-19).

  • Bleach may be used to disinfect surfaces, but the concentration is higher for COVID-19 than for everyday sanitation:

    • 5 tablespoons bleach per gallon of water

For More Information

Visit: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov

(800) 232-4636

Footnotes

1.

This document is FSHN20-7, one of a series of the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date March 2020. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication. © NCSU. Used with permission.

2.

Natalie Seymour, MS, Extension associate; Mary Yavelak, MS, Extension associate; Candice Christian, MPH, Extension associate; and Ben Chapman, professor, food safety specialist; NC State University Extension. UF Contact: Michelle Danyluk, professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, Lake Alfred, FL | mddanyluk@ufl.edu | (863) 956-8654.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.