April 2, 2021

Can COVID-19 Spread Through Food?

During this pandemic, there are many questions about safely grocery shopping. There are no reported cases of COVID-19 being spread through food or food packaging [1],[2]. Again, currently there is no evidence of the transmission of COVID-19 being associated with food or food packaging [3]. In Canada, research by food safety experts is ongoing to monitor the spread of the virus. Here are some tips to safely shop during this pandemic.

What Can You Do to Ensure You're Safely Handling Food?
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds when returning home and before/after putting away groceries
  • As always, use water to rinse fruits and vegetables (avoid using soap, sanitizers or other chemicals as food is porous and can absorb these chemicals!)
  • Although there is no evidence of transmission through food packages, if you wish you can wipe them down
  • It is not recommended to use disinfectants for hard surfaces (bleach, ammonia), on food packaged in plastic wrap or cardboard[4]
  • Cook food to safe internal temperatures(coronaviruses are killed by normal cooking temperatures [2])
Tips at the Grocery Store:
  • Buy enough groceries for 1-2 weeks to reduce frequency of trips (and exposure)
  • Avoid panic buying
  • In each trip consider easy to prepare, healthy and long-lasting items (listed below)
  • Maintain physical distance and wear a mask
  • Avoid touching items you are not purchasing
  • Make a shopping list and use apps like Flipp to price match
Foods to Consider Buying (Healthy + Long Shelf Life):
  • Apples, onions, carrots, oranges, potatoes, cabbage
  • Frozen / canned vegetables/fruit (ex. frozen pineapple, yellow/green beans, diced tomatoes)
  • Whole grains: oats, rice, bread, crackers, tortilla
  • Nut butters, nuts, seeds
  • Dry or canned beans, lentils (low sodium)
  • Eggs, plain yogurt, milk, cheese
  • Lean poultry & fish (stored in freezer),canned tuna

It is always important to have safe and healthy foods to maintain your health and wellness, especially during a pandemic – and hopefully these tips can reassure and build your confidence to do so.

Until next time,

Sadaf Shaikh, RD
*Please be aware that these are general guidelines. Nutrition and intake vary by age, sex, height, activity, being pregnant or breastfeeding, and medical conditions. For more information or to book an nutrition counselling appointment, contact sadafshaikh.rd@gmail.com or visit www.sadafshaikh.ca.


[1] Dietitians of Canada. (2021). Advice for the general public about COVID-19. Retrieved January 29, 2021, from https://www.dietitians.ca/News/2020/Advice-for-the-general-public-about-COVID-19

[2] Health Canada. (2021).Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and food safety. Retrieved January 29,2021, from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/food-safety/covid19.html

[3] Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2020).Shopping for Food During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Retrieved January 29,2021, from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-safety-during-emergencies/shopping-food-during-covid-19-pandemic-information-consumers

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Running Essential Errands. Retrieved January 29, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/essential-goods-services.html