Is it safe to eat fresh produce and other food? Short answer—yes. But here's how to keep yourself safe if you're worried about COVID-19.

Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D.
March 17, 2020
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With the situation surrounding COVID-19 rapidly changing every day, people have a lot of questions. One common question we've been hearing is around contracting the virus through food—especially fresh produce.

According to the FDA, "Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects." They recommend continuing to practice good hygiene and food safety habits, like always washing your hands before eating or prepping food and rinsing fresh produce with water (get some more helpful food safety tips here).

The European Foods Safety Authority echoes the FDA: "There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus."

Food safety experts also concur, that given what we know about two other coronavirus outbreaks—SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV—which did not spread through food, there is no reason to believe that food would spread COVID-19.

Most of what we know right now about how COVID-19 spreads, per the CDC, is from being in close contact with someone who is infected (within 6 feet) or breathing in droplets that they've released by coughing or sneezing. While it's possible for the virus to spread from surface contact, it's not the main way that COVID-19 is believed to be transmitted.

Getty Images / Aliaksandra Ivanova / EyeEm

That doesn't mean you shouldn't be diligently washing your hands, using sanitizer when you can't and not touching your face. Those are still considered appropriate preventative measures. The CDC still is recommending the best prevention is to avoid sick people (so stay home as much as possible).

As of right now, all experts and science agree that you will not get this virus from your plate. That said, grocery stores appear to be some of the busiest places as people go out and shop for food. Try to go when they're not as crowded, wipe down your grocery cart if your store provides disinfecting wipes, wash your hands as soon as you can and keep your distance from fellow shoppers. Or, if you're able, get your groceries delivered.

We know fruits and vegetables deliver lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your body—which can all help keep you healthy. (To be clear, I don't mean prevent you from contracting COVID-19, because food can't do that, but just keep you generally healthy.) People have been buying more canned and frozen produce since they last a bit longer, but there's no reason to avoid buying fresh, if you know you'll use it up.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While EatingWell is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO and their local public health department as resources.