Food & DrinkFood safety and availability during the coronavirus pandemic

Food safety and availability during the coronavirus pandemic

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working in many ways to help keep everyone safe as the nation deals with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Food availability and safety are vitally important to our well-being, and the FDA is working hard to help ensure that the food you, your family, and your pets eat is safe and available.

Here are the three things to know about food availability and safety as the nation grapples with the pandemic.

Q: Is the US food supply safe?

There is currently no evidence that food or food packaging is associated with transmission of the coronavirus.

It is important to recognize that, unlike the foodborne gastrointestinal (gastrointestinal or stomach-related) viruses that often make people sick through contaminated food, the coronavirus is a virus that causes respiratory (breathing-related) illnesses. .

The virus is believed to spread mainly from person to person. This includes between people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet), and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes; but we don’t think this is the main way the virus is transmitted at this time.

Regardless, it is always critical to follow the four key Food Safety steps, Clean, Separate, Cook, and Cool, to prevent foodborne illness. It is also important to wash your hands frequently, including before preparing and eating food and after preparing food for your pets.

Q: Is there a food shortage?

Many consumers report going to the supermarket in their neighborhood and seeing empty shelves of certain items. There is currently no nationwide food shortage, for people or pets, although in some cases you may find that certain foods in your supermarket are temporarily out of stock. This is mainly because customers are buying more than usual, not because there is less food.

For this reason, we want to remind you that there is no need to buy food for several months. The food retail industry suggests we buy enough food for a week or two at a time, and manufacturers and stores are hard at work every day to restock shelves. 

FDA is working with the White House, the US Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Homeland Security, and state and international regulatory partners to stay apprised of any impacts on food access for the American people. .

Q: What steps is the government taking to ensure that we can continue to address outbreaks of foodborne illness during the COVID-19 pandemic?

With respect to foodborne pathogens (for example, Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, or Hepatitis A), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FDA, and the US Food Safety and Inspection Service USDA continues to work with state and local partners to investigate outbreaks and foodborne illnesses. More specifically, CDC continues to lead and coordinate investigations of interstate foodborne events, consulting with states as needed on events within a single state, and working closely with FDA investigators and others to that the origins of contaminated food are traced and controlled.

FDA manages outbreak responses and activities related to incidents involving multiple illnesses associated with human food and other FDA-regulated products. (These include dietary supplements and cosmetic products.) During this pandemic, FDA will continue to prepare for, coordinate, and conduct response activities related to foodborne illness incidents.

The FDA also manages responses to outbreaks associated with animal feed. Staff continues to be prepared to respond to incidents of foodborne illness in animals.

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