COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus disease 2019, is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. COVID-19 is affecting communities throughout the world, and organizations such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending populations at increased risk for complications — including older adults and individuals with serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease — take extra precautions to protect their health.
Health agencies are also encouraging all individuals to stay home as much as possible, especially if there is an outbreak in their community. It is currently recommended that if you develop a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, to call your healthcare provider before going to the hospital or emergency room.
While practicing home food safety and good personal hygiene are always important, handwashing is especially critical in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and should be done often. Before preparing or eating food, it's important to wash your hands with clean water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds. You should also wash your hands after being out in public, touching your face, coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, or using the bathroom. If handwashing is not an option, hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol may be used until soap and water become available. Other practices, such as cleaning and disinfecting countertops and other surfaces can also serve as protection to you and others.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging, but sharing food and beverages is discouraged. It is believed that the virus spreads from person-to-person through close contact or respiratory droplets, for instance when a person coughs or sneezes. However, it may be possible for viruses to survive on surfaces and objects, reinforcing the need to observe proper hygiene and food safety practices.
When ordering takeout or having food delivered practice social distancing, maintaining a distance of six feet, whenever possible. Proper food safety practices should always be implemented while preparing foods. This includes frequently washing hands with soap and water and washing surfaces and utensils with hot soapy water after each use.
Regular handwashing, along with routine cleaning and disinfecting, especially all frequently touched surfaces, remain the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Get more tips on shopping for food, accepting deliveries and other essential errands from the CDC.
During this public health emergency, government agencies have developed flexibilities to help individuals who use programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also developed plans for children who participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs so that they are able to have continued access to food during prolonged school closures.
Older adults and other individuals who are considered at increased risk for complications from COVID-19 should evaluate the foods they have at home. If you are at high-risk or are unable to get the items you need, consider contacting family or friends to assist. Meal delivery and grocery delivery services may be available as an alternative option, and many businesses are offering additional precautions to help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Currently, there are no known cures for COVID-19, though vaccines have been developed. Recently, the FDA approved the first treatment for COVID-19, a drug only used for the treatment of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization and can only be given in a hospital or in a healthcare setting. In its continuing efforts to protect consumers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been monitoring and warning companies that offer fraudulent products which claim to help prevent, diagnose, treat or cure COVID-19. Untested supplements and other products touted as a prevention or cure to COVID-19 that are not regulated by the FDA may be dangerous and potentially life threatening. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and FDA have jointly issued warning letters to sellers of unapproved and misbranded products claiming they can treat or prevent the virus. Learn more here.
If you think you may have COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider to discuss testing options and treatment.
For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, check the CDC website and continue to follow the recommendations from local and federal government agencies.
The Academy and its members — registered dietitian nutritionists, dietetic technicians registered and other food and nutrition professionals — offer nutrition articles, tips, video and activities for individuals and families managing the challenging conditions of the COVID-19 outbreak.
PROTECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS BY LIMITING EXPOSURE.
SUPPORT YOUR HEALTH THROUGH GOOD NUTRITION.
PRACTICE HOME FOOD SAFETY STRATEGIES.
TRUSTED AUTHORITIES INCLUDE LOCAL AND FEDERAL AGENCIES.
Did you know that 1 in 6 Americans gets sick every year from food poisoning? Illness-causing bacteria can survive and spread around your kitchen, so it is important to wash hands, surfaces and utensils.
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