Can You Get the Coronavirus From Touching Food or Eating Meals?

With coronavirus being an issue on almost everyone's mind, how the virus spreads has been one of the primary concerns. While some is known about how it spreads, hence the staggering number of people around the globe taking part in self-isolation to slow it down as much as possible, there's the question if whether it can be transferred via food. Fortunately, there's little evidence that this is the case.

The issue was reported on extensively by J. Kenji López-Alt for Serious Eats on Friday. For his article, he spoke with Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist from North Carolina State University. "Even if a worker sneezes directly into a bowl of raw salad greens before packing it in a take-out container for you to take home, as gross as it is, it's unlikely to get you sick," López-Alt wrote. This should put some minds at ease as restaurants are struggling to rely on delivery and take-out to carry them through the quarantine as their dining rooms remain closed.

Following up on the Serious Eats report, Business Insider also spoke to a number of health officials to help confirm its findings, which it published on Thursday. Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, the director of global health for Northwell Health, agreed.

"The transmission is through the respiratory epithelium in your nose, mouth, and eyes. It's unlikely to be transmitted in the food, more likely on hands while holding food packaging," Cieo-Pena said.

Dr. Jaimie Meyer, a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist, agreed that there is no evidence at this time that supports the idea of food-borne transmission of the coronavirus.


"The primary mode of transmission of the virus from person to person is through direct inhalation of droplets (as in, being within six feet of someone when they cough or sneeze and breathing it in)," Meyer added.

As of Thursday, there are 68,440 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., with 994 reported deaths so far, according to The CDC. As an increasing number of states have issued stay at home orders or other types of lockdowns, trips to the grocery store, as well as restaurants, are still considered to be essential trips in most areas. While all the necessary precautions should still be taken, from social distancing to frequent hand-washing, it does appear that the risk of getting coronavirus through contact with food is low.