COVID-19 & Food Safety: What We Know Now
We are over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and scientists now have a much better understanding of how the virus is transmitted. It is now generally understood that the primary mode of infection is via the inhalation of respiratory droplets and aerosol particles. While it is possible to be infected through contact with surfaces, surface transmission is not the primary mode of transmission, and the risk is considered to be very low. There is also no evidence to suggest that consuming food is associated with COVID-19.
What does this mean for my food distribution?
You do not need a "you touch it, you take it rule."
Given the low risk of transmission via food packaging, requiring people to take any item that they've touched is unnecessarily restrictive and stigmatizing.
You do not need to quarantine food donations.
Because of the low risk of surface transmission, quarantining food is not necessary. And by not quarantining refrigerated product, you can distribute it fresher.
You should not use chemical disinfectants on food packaging.
The risk of someone getting sick by accidentally ingesting a toxic cleaning agent is higher than that of someone contracting COVID-19 from handling food or food packaging.
Routine cleaning and disinfecting is adequate to reduce risk.
You probably don't have to clean everything multiple times a day. If no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in your facility, cleaning once a day is usually enough.
You should still follow proper handwashing procedures.
Proper handwashing can reduce the already-low risk of surface transmission even further, and it is essential in preventing the transmission of foodborne illness.