Advice on the washing of fruit and vegetables

ANA has had several people asking about the evidence behind the need to wash fresh fruit and vegetables in soapy water. Alison Pask, Executive Director at ANA speaks to the experts at the Ministry of Primary industries for the best advice available at this point in time.

Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19 virus. There is also no evidence of transmission of COVID virus through eating food.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. However, this means more than ever, it is important to follow good practices of food hygiene, and to wash hands before and after handling, preparing and eating food. Also following general advice around washing hands when out in supermarkets and after touching surfaces others might have touched.

For any fresh produce it is always a good idea to rinse them in water before consuming, although we do not recommend using soap, disinfectant or detergent as this could affect the taste and may cause stomach upsets if it leaves a residue on the food.

For any food that is cooked before eating, such as mushrooms usually are, cooking temperatures will deactivate the virus, a minimum of 60 degrees C for 30 minutes, or shorter for higher temperatures.

If you are worried about touching foods, you can use utensils to take or grab them when possible. These utensils must be cleaned thoroughly after use, as well as the surfaces in contact with the foods.

For information about staying safe go to the COVID 19 website here