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Food and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Food and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19, are thought to spread mostly person-to-person through respiratory droplets when someone coughs, sneezes, or talks. It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food or food packaging, that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food or consuming food is associated with COVID-19.

After shopping, handling food packages, or before preparing or eating food, it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together gently until they feel dry. Remember, it is always important to follow good food safety practices to reduce the risk of illness from common foodborne pathogens.


The Risk of Getting COVID-19 from Food, Treated Drinking Water, or Food Packaging is Very Low.

The risk of getting COVID-19 from food you cook yourself or from handling and consuming food from restaurants and takeout or drive-thru meals is thought to be very low. Keep in mind, food safety must be practiced at all times. Currently, there is no evidence that food is associated with spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

The risk of infection by the virus from food products, food packaging, or bags is thought to be very low. Currently, no cases of COVID-19 have been identified where infection was thought to have occurred by touching food, food packaging, or shopping bags.

Although some people who work in food production and processing facilities have gotten COVID-19, there is no evidence of the virus spreading to consumers through the food or packaging that workers in these facilities may have handled.


Food Safety in the Kitchen

Use proper food safety practices when handling food and before, during and after preparing or eating food.

The virus that causes COVID-19 cannot grow on food. Although bacteria can grow on food, a virus requires a living host like a person or animal to multiply.

Currently, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads to people through food. However, it is important to safely handle and continue to cook foods to their recommended temperatures to prevent foodborne illness.

The virus that causes COVID-19 has not been found in drinking water.


Clean Surfaces

Regularly clean and disinfect kitchen counters using a commercially available disinfectant product or a do-it-yourself disinfecting solution with 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) unscented liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Leave the solution on the surface for at least 1 minute. Before preparing food on the kitchen counter, rinse disinfected surface with water. WARNING: do not use this solution or other disinfecting products on food or packaging. If someone in your home is sick, clean and disinfect “high – touch” surfaces daily such as handles, kitchen countertops, faucets, light switches, and doorknobs.

Everyday Handling of Packaged Food and Fresh Produce


Handling packaged food

When unpacking groceries, refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables within 2 hours of purchasing.

Do NOT use disinfectants designed for hard surfaces, such as bleach and ammonia, on food packaged in cardboard or plastic wrap.

If reusable cloth bags become soiled, follow instructions for washing them, and dry them on the warmest appropriate setting.


Handling and cleaning fresh produce

Do NOT wash produce with soap, bleach, sanitizer, alcohol, disinfectant or any other chemical.

Gently rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under cold running tap water.

Scrub uncut firm produce (potatoes, cucumbers, melons) with a clean brush, even if you don’t plan to eat the peel.

Salt, pepper, vinegar, lemon juice, and lime juice have been shown to be effective at removing germs on produce.

Healthy bowls strike it big in What’s Hot 2020 chef survey

Healthy is hot


The bowl trend has been around for a few years, but it’s still hot, hot, hot. Chef’s ranked healthy bowls tops in the new menu items category. Healthy kids meals continue to be top-of-mind, also.       

Bowl meals are on the rise not because they fit important nutrition and culinary trends, but also because they meet other needs for both customers and operators. Healthy bowls are delicious, customized meals that combine all sorts of greens, lean proteins, legumes, squash, berries, seeds and other flavorful power foods.

Packaged in attractive containers with transparent lids that show off the vivid colors. These customizable meals are appropriate for either sharing or solo dining. Whether hot or chilled, they travel well and are ideal for take-out and delivery.

Top Restaurant Trends for 2020

Top Restaurant Trends for 2020

Plant –based everything, eco-friendly packaging, revamped classic cocktails, healthy bowls, zero waste and much more. Six hundred professional chefs in 12 food and beverage categories were surveyed to identify top trends.

The What’s Hot survey was conducted by the National Restaurant Association in November – December 2019.

Top 10 overall restaurant trends for 2020

  1. Eco-friendly packaging
  2. Scratch made
  3. Plant-based proteins
  4. Healthy bowls
  5. Creativity with catering
  6. Delivery-friendly menu items
  7. Revamped classic cocktails
  8. Stress relievers (ingredients that promote relaxation/relieve stress)
  9. Specialty burger blends (mushroom-beef burgers, etc.)
  10. Unique beef and pork cuts


Restaurants, grocers, and food manufacturers have teamed up with the federal government to find ways to cut billions of pounds of food waste at every step of the process – from the field through processing to groceries, restaurants and home fridges.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates we waste between 30% and 40% of the food supply each year. At the same time, USDA estimates 37 million people live in food-insecure households.
The National Restaurant Association and Food Waste Reduction Alliance—the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the USDA, Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency pledging their support for the government’s “Winning on Reducing Waste Initiative.”
This private-public partnership aims to reach consumers with messages about food waste and improve information about how food waste and loss is measured.

Food waste is exactly what it sounds like, any food substance that is discarded. It can be raw or cooked, solid or liquid. It’s generated by the processing, handling, storage, sale, preparation, cooking and serving of foods; so it can happen anywhere along the supply chain, from the farm to the manufacturer to the retailer or restaurant, and in our homes or at work.
The opportunity and the need to reduce food waste has never been greater. Reducing food waste in the U.S. can deliver significant environmental, social and economic benefits. In addition to increasing food availability, this reduction can alleviate poverty and reduce pressure on ecosystems, climate and water. This is a critical element for closing the food gap between food available today and food needed for 2050 to adequately feed the planet’s projected 9.3 billion people.
Some of the food generated in the U.S. is not actually waste at all, it is safe to eat and nutritious. In these instances, the food can be donated to food banks and other anti-hunger organizations, keeping it out of landfills while helping those in need.
Reducing the volume of food waste in food manufacturing, retailing and foodservice operations means the overall costs of these operations. Efficient, cost-effective companies are best positioned to deliver affordable products to consumers, grow, create jobs and support their communities.

Clean Eating …. Another Great Way to Stay Healthy

Clean eating is a deceptively simple concept. At it’s simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or “real” foods----- those that are minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.

Eating clean is a good was to refresh your eating habits. It is about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups and eating less of the not-so-healthy ones. That means embracing whole foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats. It also means cutting back on refined grains, added sugars, salt and unhealthy fats.

 10 Tips for Clean Eating

1. Limit Processed Foods
2. Bump Up Your Veggies
3. Cut Down on Saturated Fats
4. Reduce Alcohol Intake
5. Un-Sweeten Your Diet
6. Watch The Salt
7. Choose Whole Grains
8. Eat Less Meat
9. Up Your Fruit Intake
10. Nix Refined Grains

 eat right

Promote Your Restaurant

Promote Your Restaurant’s Dedication of Food Safety

To successfully execute food safety measures and develop a culture of food safety in your restaurant, your entire team must diligently participate. One mistake, such as using a contaminated utensil to handle ready-to-eat food, can lead to foodborne illness and tarnished business reputation.

According to the Center for disease Control, roughly one in six Americans gets sick from a foodborne illness annually. Just like you promote your latest and greatest menu items to your customers, take time to share how much your restaurant focuses on serving food safely.

Here are three tips to help communicate your food safety commitment to customers:

1. Teach employees the “how” and the “why.” When showing employees how to prepare food, clean and sanitize surfaces, and dispose of any waste, share all the reasons why following through every time is important. And that’s not just the back-of-house staff, it’s top-level management and front-of-house staff, also. Help keep each other accountable and informed, so if a customer or employee has a question, you’ll know how to respond.

2. Show and tell. Develop a front-of-house cleaning schedule, and stick to it. To help reduce the spread of pathogens on a daily basis, incorporate the cleaning of front-of-house high-touch items, which could include laminated menus, condiment bottles, and salt and pepper shakers, into your cleaning schedule. If a customer asks employees a food safety question in the front-of-house, team members should feel confident in their food safety knowledge. If they do not, the next step is reaching out to a team member who can answer these questions and requesting a training refresher.

3. Stay polished. If an employee’s clothing gets dirty, it should be replaced with a clean garment. Failing to do so can not only affect customer perception but also lead to cross-contamination. Dress for success! Nonverbal clues matter. When leaving a food prep area, remove aprons and single use gloves. Food handlers must also keep their fingernails trimmed and hair covered in a hat or hairnet.



##National Restaurant Association##

How Government Responds to Food Illness Outbreaks

What is a Food Illness Outbreak?

When two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the event is called a foodborne outbreak. Public Health officials investigate outbreaks to control them, so more people do not get sick in the outbreak, and to learn how to prevent similar outbreaks from happening in the future.

How Does Food Get Contaminated?

It takes several steps to get food from the farm or fishery to the dining table. Contamination can occur at any step in this process—during production.

           Steps        Definition Examples of Contamination
Production Growing the plants we harvest or raising the animals we use for food If fields are sprayed with contaminated water, fruits and vegetables can be contaminated before harvest.
Processing Changing plants or animals into what we recognize and buy as food. If contaminated water or ice is used to wash, pack, or chill fruits or vegetables, the contamination can spread to those items.
Distribution Moving food from the farm or production plant to the consumer or a kitchen. If refrigerated food is left on a loading dock for long time in warm weather. It could reach temperatures that allow bacteria to grow.
Preparation Getting the food ready to eat. This may occur in the kitchen of a restaurant, home, or institution. If a cook uses a knife to cut raw chicken and then uses the same knife without washing it to slice tomatoes, the tomatoes can be contaminated by pathogens from the chicken.

Who Responds to Outbreaks?                         

Local agencies: Most foodborne outbreaks are local events. Public health officials in just one city or county health department investigate these outbreaks.

State agencies: The state health department investigates outbreaks that spread across several cities and counties.  This department often works with the state department of agriculture and with federal food safety agencies.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): For outbreaks that involve large numbers of people or severe or unusual illness, a state may ask for help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC usually leads investigations of widespread outbreaks— those that may affect many states at once.

Federal Regulatory agencies: The CDC collaborates with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) throughout all phases of an outbreak investigation. In the case of an outbreak of foodborne illness, these federal agencies work to find out why it occurred, take steps to control it, and look for ways to prevent future outbreaks. They may trace foods to their origins, test foods, assess food safety measures in restaurants and food processing facilities, lead farm investigations, and announce food recalls.

Restaurant Trends

Restaurant News

National Restaurant Association’s hot trend predictions for 2018

  • Gourmet kids meals
  • Peruvian cuisine
  • house-made condiments

In 2018, American kids will be eating a wider range of foods and grown-ups will be swapping out cards for vegetables and eating heritage breeds of meat with uncommon herbs, according to chefs polled by the National Restaurant Association.
In it’s annual What’s Hot survey, the NRA asks members of the American Culinary Federation to rank a long list of items as either a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news” or “perennial favorites.”
New cuts of meat ranked in first place, same as last year, followed by house-made condiments, which leapt five places to second. Street-food-inspired dishes, ethnic-inspired breakfast items and sustainable seafood rounded out the top five. They all scored in the top six last year, with ethnic-inspired breakfast jumping up two spots to fourth.
Healthful kids’ meals fell three places to sixth, but gourmet items in kids’ meals moved up two spots to 18th and ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes joined the top 20 trends for the first time to 16th place.
Other newcomers are vegetable carb substitutes (think riced cauliflower and parsnip puree), uncommon herbs (ingredients such as yarrow and stinging nettle), Peruvian cuisine, heritage breed meats, Thai rolled ice cream (ice cream base poured on a super-chilled “anti griddle”, frozen and rolled into a tight cylinder), doughnuts with nontraditional filling and ethnic condiments (such as Sriracha, gochujang and chimichurri).
Doughnuts filled with nontraditional filling is the fastest-growing trend. More chefs voted for it this year compared to last year than any other trend. It was followed by ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes, farm/estate-branded items, heritage breed meats and Peruvian cuisine.
In terms of nonalcoholic beverages, the hottest trend was house-made or artisanal soft drinks. Of the 700 chefs surveyed, 56 percent said it was hot. Cold brew coffee, gourmet lemonade and locally roasted/house-roasted coffee got 55 percent of votes. They were followed by specialty tea (hot or iced), mocktails and kombucha.

By Bret Thorn