Experts say that it is possible to catch COVID-19 from food packaging, but the risks are very small. While laboratory studies show that, theoretically, the coronavirus survives for hours on some packaging materials such as plastic and cardboard, in real life this may not be true.
According to BBC News, Dr. Julian Tang, a virologist at the University of Leicester in the U.K., said that in the outside world, rapid environmental changes make it unlikely that the virus can survive very long on surfaces.
And Emmanuel Goldman, a Rutgers University microbiologist, wrote in Lancet: "In my opinion, the transmission through inanimate surfaces is very small, and only in instances where an infected person coughs or sneezes on the surface, and someone else touches that surface after the cough or sneeze, within one to two hours."
Chinese officials were recently concerned when the coronavirus was found on the packaging of frozen chicken wings and shrimp imported from South America. The virus was detected during a screening of imported foods in the Southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and was the latest of seven instances in which the government found the virus on imported food products.
But according to the Mayo Clinic, "there's no evidence of anyone contracting the virus that causes COVID-19 after touching food packaging or containers." According to The Hill, health authorities in Shenzhen traced and tested people who handled the food and their results came back negative.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said "there is currently no evidence to suggest that handling food or consuming food is associated with COVID-19." However, the agency added that "it is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food or food packaging, that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes."
According to the BBC, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests certain precautions should be taken when handling food. While the organization said there's no need to disinfect packages, "hands should be properly washed after handling food packages and before eating."
WHO advised using hand sanitizer when grocery shopping and washing your hands after handling and storing the products. If you have your groceries delivered, wash your hands after accepting the packages and wear a mask to answer the door.
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