FDA Coronavirus Q&As

The FDA is working to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and keep you and your family informed on the latest developments. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions from consumers about food handling and hand sanitizer:

Q: Can I get the coronavirus from food, food packaging, or food containers and preparation areas?

A: Currently there is no evidence of food, food containers, or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects.

If you are concerned about contamination of food or food packaging, wash your hands after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating and before you eat. Consumers can follow CDC guidelines on frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; and frequently clean and disinfect surfaces.

It is always important to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Q: Can I get COVID-19 from a food worker handling my food?

A: Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. However, the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in some communities in the U.S. The CDC recommends that if you are sick, stay home until you are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

Anyone handling, preparing and serving food should always follow safe food handling procedures, such as washing hands and surfaces often.

Q. Where can I buy hand sanitizer? If I can’t find it in the store, can I make my own?

A. Many retail stores and pharmacies sell hand sanitizers. However, we understand that many stores have run out of hand sanitizers and they may be difficult to find. To help increase the availability of hand sanitizers, the FDA has issued guidance for the temporary preparation of alcohol-based hand sanitizers by some companies and pharmacies during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The FDA does not recommend that consumers make their own hand sanitizer. If made incorrectly, hand sanitizer can be ineffective, and there have been reports of skin burns from homemade hand sanitizer. The agency lacks verifiable information on the methods being used to prepare hand sanitizer at home and whether they are safe for use on human skin.

The FDA continues to find issues with certain hand sanitizer products. For example, test results show certain products have concerningly low levels of the active ingredient ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. Do not to use products on this list.

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