This Food Tested Positive for COVID—Is It Safe to Eat? Experts Weigh In

Luckily, there have been no reports of coronavirus associated with eating this food so far.

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You already knew household pets have developed COVID, zoo animals have gotten the virus, and now, we know even food can test positive for COVID-19. According to a recent report from the Shenzen government in China, frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil to China tested positive for the coronavirus. But does that mean you should be worried about the next bite of food you put in your mouth? According to medical experts, contracting the virus from food shouldn't be high on your list of coronavirus concerns.

Though the thought of eating COVID-tainted food may be unpalatable, the risk of actually developing the virus through contaminated food remains low. "Although the coronavirus has been detected on frozen and imported foods, it was most likely deposited by improper handling from someone who has been infected," explains physician scientist and Angiogenesis Foundation President William Li, MD. That means, the chicken itself didn't have the virus, but someone handling it did.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also notes that there is "no evidence" that humans can contract coronavirus through eating.

white woman cooking chicken in pan
Shutterstock/Africa Studio

In fact, the means by which you prepare your meals may offer an added layer of protection. "Cooking temperatures destroy the coronavirus, so hot food would likely be safe to eat, even if were contaminated," explains Li.

While the reported positive COVID cases in animals may have some people worried about the safety of consuming animal products, research suggests that chickens in particular are unlikely to fuel coronavirus outbreaks. A July 2020 study published in The Lancet definitively states that "pigs and chickens are not susceptible to SARS-CoV-2," the virus that causes COVID-19.

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Though the risk of getting coronavirus through contaminated food may be negligible, that doesn't mean you shouldn't remain vigilant when preparing your next meal amid the pandemic. The CDC recommends washing your hands thoroughly or using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol after shopping or handling groceries, and before both cooking and eating.

"The most important step to take when it comes to food is to use safe handling practices, since it is important to avoid contamination from bacteria that can cause food poisoning," Li says.

Similarly, staying abreast of outbreaks of foodborne illness is of the essence—outbreaks of E. coli linked to clover sprouts and salmonella linked to onions have both been reported in the U.S. since the pandemic began. And if you're worried about catching the virus, This Is How High Your COVID Risk Is Based on Your Everyday Behavior.

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