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Coronavirus: Virus Transmission through Food or Commodities?
At the beginning of the year, an outbreak of respiratory diseases due to infection with a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was detected in China. There are now infections in numerous countries around the world - including Germany. But how can you get infected? Is this also possible with food or objects?
A new type of corona virus has been spreading, especially in Asia, for weeks. However, infections were also found in other regions of the world - including Germany. In extreme cases, the disease is fatal. But how do you get infected? Can the consumption of food be dangerous?
Airborne transmission as a droplet infection
As the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) writes in a current communication, transmission of the pathogen via food to humans is unlikely based on current scientific knowledge.
According to the experts, the known corona viruses are usually transmitted to humans via the air as a droplet infection. This requires close contact with an animal carrying the virus or an infected person.
According to the current state of scientific knowledge, there is as yet no evidence for the possibility of an infection of humans through contact with products, commodities or through food, even with the current outbreak.
The Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) also points out on its portal "infektionsschutz.de" that infection via imported goods is very unlikely, since contamination (colonization with pathogens) and the virus occurred after the long transport route should still be active.
However, it is unknown whether the novel corona virus can survive for several days in liquid or dried material. To date, the BZgA is not aware of any infections caused by imported objects or food.
Protection against infections
Those who want to protect themselves from infection should wash their hands with soap and water several times a day. When coughing and sneezing, the mouth and nose should be covered with a tissue (not with the hands).
And direct contact with sick people should be avoided. This is pointed out by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Security (AGES).
Disposable face masks are not effective protection against viruses or bacteria that are transmitted through the air, but they can help reduce the risk of the virus spreading through “splashes” of sneezing or coughing.
Comply with general hygiene rules
According to the BfR, compliance with hygiene rules should always be observed when handling and preparing raw meat and meat products, also with regard to other pathogens that may be present. The following general hygiene regulations apply:
- Store and prepare raw meat products and other foods separately, especially if the latter is not reheated.
- Always clean equipment and surfaces that have come into contact with raw meat products thoroughly with warm water and detergent.
- Dispose of packaging materials, thawing water and the like immediately.
- Wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap.
- Cook dishes prepared with raw meat products thoroughly, which means that a core temperature of 70 degrees Celsius must be reached for at least two minutes.
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR): Respiratory diseases due to new coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Virus transmission through food consumption or contact with consumer goods is unlikely, (accessed: 02.02.2020), Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)
- Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA): Answers to frequently asked questions about the new type of corona virus, (accessed: 02.02.2020), infektionsschutz.de
- Agency for Health and Food Security (AGES): Coronavirus, (accessed: 02.02.2020), Agency for Health and Food Security (AGES)