In a statement from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dated 4/02/2020, “…we have postponed routine surveillance inspections of domestic human and animal food facilities and farms out of concern for the health and well-being of FDA investigators and state inspectors and to respect industry safety concerns about visitors.”
This statement was part of a more significant announcement released by the FDA, letting the public know that the food they are buying will remain safe, but this statement has rippled through the food and beverage industry. Consumers have expressed concerns, making analogies to a fox in the henhouse, and proclaiming that their food supply is now in jeopardy. This sentiment, coupled with consumers wondering whether they can contract COVID-19 directly from food packaging or the food itself, is adding to the anxiety of the US consumers.
First, let’s discuss the FDA.
The FDA is the authority and regulatory body for the food, beverage, and dairy industries, but the process from which food for sale is created has roots going back almost 80 years. Quality systems of today are not changing; the FDA will still audit ‘with cause’ and sampling and verification still need to occur. Just because the FDA is not coming to the door for a couple of months does not mean that they will stop reviewing all of the paperwork when audits are resumed.
Second, what about contracting COVID-19 from food?
There is zero evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, suggesting you can contract COVID-19 from food. Steps that can and should occur to add biosecurity protocols to your home are simply to wash your hands thoroughly after handling food directly or in packaged form. Cook raw foods well, as you otherwise would, and you will be fine.
There are many uncertainties during this COVID-19 pandemic, but consumers can be reassured about the safety of our food supply. All FDA regulations are still in place, and by following a few common-sense practices, the food we purchase and consume should continue to be safe.