We understand and appreciate that, as a consumer, our public lives and shopping behaviours have changed significantly. These challenges have been exacerbated by the current COVID-19 crisis, and the aim of this document is to provide help and guidance to you. Therefore, this Q & A will answer the following questions:
COVID-19 FOOD FAQs
- Can I catch COVID-19 from food?
- How can I protect myself and my family from COVID-19?
- How do I know I'm washing my hands effectively?
- When and how should I use a sanitizer gel instead of handwashing?
- Does it matter where I put my food in the fridge?
- How full can my fridge be?
- What food can I freeze?
- What temperature should my freezer be?
COOKING AT HOME SAFELY
- Follow Food Safety Advice
- Can I cook everything from frozen?
- How do I safely defrost food before cooking/eating?
COVID-19 FOOD FAQs
There is currently no evidence that food is a source of coronavirus, and it's very unlikely that it can be transmitted through the consumption of food.
COVID-19 is known to transmit from person to person, or from the droplet that are generated when an infected person sneezes or coughs. World Health Organisation experts say that it is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging. In line with good food hygiene practices, open food should be covered as soon after preparation as possible. Please refer to our COVID-19 general update here.
Making sure everyone in your household:
- Follows the advice to stay at home, away from other people and maintain social distancing
- Maintains good hand hygiene with regular thorough handwashing
- Avoids direct hand contact with eyes, nose and mouth
- Covers their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with disposable tissues and disposes of them in the nearest waste bin.
Five steps to perfect handwashing:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing is needed to ensure your hands are clean and virus-free.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
You must scrub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing to ensure your hands are clean and virus-free; to check you're washing your hands effectively with soap and water, watch this video and imagine that the ink is soap! Wash your hands as if you’ve just chopped some chillies, just before you put your contact lenses in!
Hand sanitiser gels should never be used as a substitute for handwashing, but they are useful if it not possible to wash hands with soap and water; for example, when out shopping for food.
A Hand Sanitiser needs to contain a minimum of 62% alcohol by volume to have any effect against viruses.
Some parts of the fridge are cooler than others and some foods shouldn't be placed next to each other. Watch this short video from Love Food Hate Waste to see how to best to use your fridge to reduce food waste and save money.
Help keep your food chilled at least below 5°C by not overfilling your fridge; If your fridge is packed full, the cool air cannot circulate and chill the food. Keep spaces between food and take out whatever doesn't need to be kept cold. Find out more here.
Freezing food helps reduce food waste and can also help save you money! Many foods can be frozen for use later, including foods that have a Use by date. Look out for information on the packaging or check out Love Food Hate Waste for a list of foods with storage tips.
The ideal freezer temperature is -18°C for food storage and turning the temperature down to -23°C is helpful to quickly freeze food, for example, if you are filling it up after a trip to the shops. Keep your freezer full for best economy. Find out more here.
COOKING AT HOME SAFELY
Remember when cooking food, it's not just hand washing beforehand and between handling raw and ready-to-eat ingredient's that's important. Keep raw meat and fish well away from other foods and make sure your food is cooked thoroughly. Find out more here.
Only if instruction on the pack says you can. Otherwise, you must defrost food properly first, especially large items. Always follow the instructions on the packaging. For other foods, please visit these guidance pages from Food.gov and Love Food Hate Waste.
The safest way to defrost food is in the fridge. Take your time and don’t be tempted to speed things up using heat. You can, however, leave bread for example, out at room temperature. For more details, please visit these guidance pages from Food.gov and Love Food Hate Waste.
Remember to show them how to keep their hair away from the food, put on an apron, tidy and disinfect the work surfaces and wash their hands before touching the food. Remind them to also wash their hands in between touching raw ingredients like meat/fish and ready-to-eat ingredients like salad.
For ideas on the type of cooking your kids can do at their age, please visit this page on the BBC's Good Food website.
For more helpful resources for kids visit our Love Food Love Science website.
This page is part of the IFST COVID-19 Knowledge Hub
This section is part of our COVID-19 Knowledge Hub. IFST have created a COVID-19 Knowledge Hub to consolidate advice, practical guidance and links to resources to support individuals, smaller food businesses and larger food operations. Find out more here.