COVID-19 FAQ for Food Banks: Receiving Food and Cleaning
CAN COVID-19 BE SPREAD THROUGH FOOD?
- Transmission of COVID-19 through food, food packages or even food handlers has not been identified as a risk factor for this illness
- Evidence suggests it may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces. CDC recommends cleaning followed by disinfection as a best practice for prevention of COVID-19
IS IT SAFE TO ACCEPT FOOD FROM COUNTRIES OR STATES IMPACTED BY COVID-19?
- With decades of data related to influenza, another similar respiratory virus, there is no data to indicate that food distribution channels like grocery stores or distribution warehouses are transmission nodes.
- Currently, there is no data to suggest that accepting food from an area impacted by COVID-19 is a risk factor for disease spread.
SHOULD FOOD PACKAGES BE CLEANED BEFORE THEY ARE USED?
- Continue routine operating procedures in evaluating the integrity of packaging as well as for any soil are already in place.
- Follow risk management practices including hand hygiene regimens of handwashing followed by hand sanitizer according to CDC guidelines.
HOW SHOULD CLEANING AND DISINFECTION BE HANDLED?
- Volunteers and staff should wash hands and use hand sanitizer regularly.
- Disinfect surfaces like railings, doorknobs, tables, baskets, etc on a regular basis.
- Use non-porous plastic tables that can be easily disinfected whenever possible.
- CDC is advising use of disinfectants on the EPA list, which can be found at:
go.ncsu.edu/epacovid-19. (Note: this list is based on current data, but compounds have not been validated for inactivation of the virus causing COVID-19)
- Bleach may be used to disinfect surfaces, but the concentration is higher for COVID-19 than for everyday sanitation:
- 5 tablespoons bleach per gallon of water
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law
March 17, 2020