Handling, storing and serving food safely is always a priority. In general, improper food handling has led to food illnesses such as eColi or listeria, however in a Covid-19 world when people are gathering for events such as wakes and memorials and food is served buffet style, it is prudent to take additional precautions. When gatherings take place, we encourage those responsible for presenting and handling of the food to take additional measures that reduce risks. This may include, limiting quantity and types of food out on display for consumption, spacing of individual items on tables, and the length of time it remains out. These are a few general food safety guidelines to consider following notwithstanding the current pandemic.

Is Covid-19 (Coronavirus) transmitted through food?

There is no current evidence that Covid-19 is transmitted through food or water. History with previous outbreaks of coronavirus such as SARS and MERS suggest that people do not likely become infected with coronavirus through food. While it is not proven that Covid-19 can spread through food, we do know germs can pass through touching a variety of surfaces and then touching your face. Here are some suggestions to minimize risk at a wake or memorial gathering.

Safety measures to limit spread of Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

  • Keep hand sanitizer readily available throughout the gathering.
  • Provide face masks for those who choose to wear it.
  • Use only disposable paper goods including plates, napkins, utensils, serving utensils, cups and paper towels in the restroom.
  • When a food platter or meal is delivered, only healthy people should handle the food. People that are coughing, feverish, short of breath, vomiting or have diarrhea or other symptoms of illness should stay out
  • of the kitchen.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly before and during food preparation. Wash hands after touching the container, plastic wrap or box the food arrives in and before touching the food or platter. Properly clean the counter or surface area where the food platter was placed.
  • When a food platter, meal or other food item is delivered, determine the amount you want to display. It is best to display a smaller quantity to minimize exposure to the entire food platter. When quantity runs low, you may consider changing the platter or washing it before adding more food to it.
  • Leave additional space between platters and food items out on display and have signage or place cards reminding guests not to use their hands when picking up food items.
  • Properly store leftover food including dessert and candy in sealed containers. Refrigerate and freeze when appropriate.
  • Frequently change or sterilize serving utensils.
  • Clean and sanitize food contact surfaces. Wash, rinse, and sanitize cutting boards, tables, serving utensils, and other food contact surfaces often.
  • Consider removing decorative objects, papers, and other unneeded materials from counters to allow for thorough sanitization of unobstructed surfaces.
  • All nonfood contact surfaces, such as counters, tables, chairs, bathrooms, faucets, handles, light switches, doors handles, refrigerator and oven door handles, and doorbell buttons should be cleaned and sanitized often.
  • Sanitize outside of condiment containers, beverage bottles, creamers, the handles on the coffee pot and other high touch areas.
  • Vacuum rugs and mop floors nightly and use a spray disinfectant on couches and other fabrics.

There is no reason to panic, but taking these recommended precautionary steps help to create peace of mind during a time when gathering may help the grieving and mourning process.