COVID-19 FAQ for Grocery Stores: Receiving and Food Packaging1

Natalie Seymour, Mary Yavelak, Candice Christian, and Ben Chapman 2

This flyer is best viewed as a PDF. It provides guidance for grocery stores 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.

  • There is no history of a public health authority advising individuals to stop shopping for food at certain stores due to the risk of respiratory virus transmission.

  • Currently, there is no data to suggest that accepting food from an area experiencing this illness 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 washing coupled with sanitizing (using an alcohol-based sanitizer, as per CDC's guidance).

IF WE WANT TO CLEAN AND DISINFECT, WHAT SHOULD BE USED?

  • CDC advises using compounds on the list of EPA recommended disinfectants, 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 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 FSHN20-8, 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.

Publication #FSHN20-8

Date: 2020-05-19

Related Topics

Fact Sheet

Contacts

  • Michelle Danyluk