USDA, FDA confident no Covid-19 transmission through food or packaging
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) have reiterated their confidence that there is no evidence of Covid-19 transmission via food or food packaging.
The two bodies, in addition to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that food and its packaging are not likely to transmit SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
In a statement by to Acting USDA Secretary Kevin Shea and Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, the USDA and FDA reaffirmed their belief in the safety of the U.S. food supply and exports, stating:
“Consumers should be reassured that we continue to believe, based on our understanding of currently available reliable scientific information, and supported by overwhelming international scientific consensus, that the foods they eat and food packaging they touch are highly unlikely to spread SARS-CoV-2.”
The statement emphasized that Covid-19 is a respiratory illness that spreads from person to person, setting it apart from foodborne or gastrointestinal viruses which are known to cause illness via contaminated food.
While there are reports of the virus being found on food and packaging, the statement points out that most of the existing studies focus primarily on the detection of the virus rather than if it actually resulted in infection.
Additionally, the statement continued, the number of virus particles needed for infection via oral inhalation is unlikely to be matched by the number that could be theoretically picked up from touching a surface. Consequently, the chances of infection by touching the food packaging or food consumption are considered low.
The USDA and the FDA reportedly based this update on available information from various global groups and organizations on the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. One example of this was a recent release from the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF) that stated:
“Despite the billions of meals and food packages handled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to date, there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging, or food-handling is a source or important transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 resulting in COVID-19.”
Reviews and analyses from other countries are reported to be consistent with this finding.