Consumer - coronavirus

Could the coronavirus spread through the food I buy in the store or online?

Currently, there is nothing to indicate that you get ill if you eat food contaminated with coronavirus. Coronavirus is mainly contagious through microscopic droplets in the air entering the airway – not through the gastrointestinal tract.

Do I have to rinse fruit and vegetables extra carefully due to the coronavirus?

No. You do not need to rinse fruits and vegetables extra carefully due to the coronavirus. Coronavirus is mainly spread through microscopic droplets in the air entering the airway – not through the gastrointestinal tract.

The risk of being infected by coronavirus from touching fruit or vegetables is considered very small. There have been no reports of anyone being infected with the new coronavirus by eating food.

In order for surfaces and various objects, such as fruits and vegetables, to transmit the coronavirus, the object first needs to be contaminated with the virus. For example a sick person could cough or sneeze on the object, or touch the object with virus on their hands. If a healthy person touches the object and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes without first having washed their hands, the healthy person could get infected. 

The amount of virus transferred via an object or surface is small however, compared to if someone in your vicinity coughs or sneezes on you. The reason is that the virus must be transferred in several steps from a sick person to a healthy person (such as hand-object-hand-nose). For each step, the quantity of virus goes down and this reduces the risk of infection. When the virus has been on a surface for a while, it dries out and gradually loses its ability to infect. Good hand hygiene and the regular hygiene advice for cooking and handling food is enough during this corona period too.

Should I wash my hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer?

Washing your hands with soap and water is the best protection against the spread of different infections. Wash your hands frequently and wipe them dry afterwards. If there is no soap and water available, you can use hand sanitizer. Both methods ensure that the coronavirus loses its ability to infect.

Could I become infected if I touch utensils such as salad tongs or food packages that an infected person has touched?

The risk of being infected by coronavirus through indirect contact, such as when touching surfaces or utensils, is assessed to be very small. There have been no reports of anyone being infected with the new coronavirus by touching surfaces or objects containing the virus.

In order for surfaces and various objects, such as food packages or utensils, to transmit the coronavirus, the object first needs to be contaminated with the virus. For example a sick person could cough or sneeze on the object, or touch the object with virus on their hands. If a healthy person touches the object and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes without first having washed their hands, the healthy person could get infected. 

The amount of virus transferred via an object or surface is small however, compared to if someone in your vicinity coughs or sneezes on you. The reason is that the virus must be transferred in several steps from a sick person to a healthy person (such as hand-object-hand-nose). For each step, the quantity of virus goes down and this reduces the risk of infection. When the virus has been on a surface for a while, it dries out and gradually loses its ability to infect. Good hand hygiene further reduces the risk.

Could coronavirus spread through pick and mix sweets?

Currently, there is nothing to indicate that you get ill eating neither pick and mix sweets or other food contaminated with coronavirus. There have been no reports of anyone being infected with the new coronavirus this way. Coronavirus is mainly spread through microscopic droplets in the air entering the airway – not through the gastrointestinal tract.

The risk of being infected by coronavirus from touching or eating pick and mix sweets is considered very small.

In order for surfaces and various objects, such as pick and mix sweets or scoops, to transmit the coronavirus, the object first needs to be contaminated with the virus. For example a sick person could cough or sneeze on the object, or touch the object with virus on their hands. If a healthy person touches the object and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes without first having washed their hands, the healthy person could get infected. 

The amount of virus transferred via an object or surface is small however, compared to if someone in your vicinity coughs or sneezes on you. The reason is that the virus must be transferred in several steps from a sick person to a healthy person (such as hand-object-hand-nose). For each step, the quantity of virus goes down and this reduces the risk of infection. When the virus has been on a surface for a while, it dries out and gradually loses its ability to infect. Good hand hygiene further reduces the risk.

What do I need to keep in mind if I shop for or cook food/meals for others?

Right now, quite a few people are helping others to shop for food and other essentials. In addition to discussing with the person you are shopping for what they need and want, it is important to:

  • specifically ask if they have any allergies or food intolerances
  • remember to keep items that need to be refrigerated cold enough, especially when they are to be transported a distance
  • follow the advice and guidance of the Public Health Agency of Sweden – for example, regarding social distancing. The guidance in this regard may change over time, so try to keep up-to-date on the prevailing advice

If you are shopping for food an aged person, it is useful to know that there is advice on how older people with weaker immune systems can reduce the risk of becoming ill from various risks, for instance the bacterium listeria, by being especially careful with certain foods.

Whether you cook for yourself or others, our usual hygiene advice applies in the kitchen.

Coronavirus pandemic - questions and answers

Reviewed 2020-04-28