Coronavirus is not transmitted through food consumption
12 March 2020
COVID-19, commonly known as corona virus, is at the centre of all attention today, including in social media. A part from reliable information circulating from health specialists, a great amount of misinformation has flared up. Since the start of the outbreak, one of the misconceptions circulating is about getting infected by eating animal food products, Chinese food or raw meat. And the WHO, FAO, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Federal Public Services (FPS) of Belgium have stated their views.
On 3rd February 2020, EFSA communicated that they were not currently involved in the response to the COVID-19 outbreak because “food had not been identified as a likely source or route of transmission of the virus” (1).
In addition, on Monday 9th March 2020, EFSA published a communication statement informing there is no evidence that suggests that coronavirus is transmitted through food consumption. They are aware, like the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) that wild animals were likely the source of the initial infection. In China, a strict ban on the consumption and farming of “wild animals” is being rolled out. China has acknowledged it needs to bring its lucrative wildlife industry under control if it is to prevent another outbreak. In late February, it slapped a temporary ban on all farming and consumption of "terrestrial wildlife of important ecological, scientific and social value," which is expected to be signed into law later this year.
Scientists and authorities, who are monitoring the spread of the virus around the world, have not reported any transmission through food (2). For example, BfR, Germany’s risk assessment body mentioned that there is no evidence of humans being infected with COVID-19 through the consumption of contaminated food or imported products (3). The Belgium FPS also agrees with the statements and highlights that food has not been identified as a probable source or route of transmission of the virus. Although, the FASF reminds that good hygiene practices are essential when handling food and prevent most contaminations. General hygiene rules (e.g. hand washing) and hygiene rules for food (e.g. avoid cross contamination) should always be taken into consideration, regardless the possible contamination with the coronavirus which has been seen as “not highly resistant viruses in the environment and are rapidly inactivated when they end up on surface” (4). Inactivation in dry conditions generally occurs within a period from a few hours to a few days.
As the viruses are sensitive to heat, the risk of infection can also be reduced by heating foods.(9) The WHO also mentioned some common food hygiene practices to follow and ensure food safety at all times.(5).
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) are working together to assist member countries and research communities to tackle the disease. The FAO specially expressed that anything related to COVID-19 outbreak and the human health, the WHO is the authority and primary source of information.

Meat and its link to the Immune System
Meat can even be of assistance when preventing health infections, because of their rich nutritional content. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin found in meat products as vitamin D3 (1) (12). And its metabolite 25- hydroxycholecalciferol (25(OH)-D-3) can be found especially in the meat and liver of livestock. This metabolite is considered to have a high biological activity, with a better and faster absorption from the diet than vitamin D3 itself (4).
Research papers have revealed that vitamin D, have an anti-inflammatory and immune-regulatory action. It is accomplished by its ability to inhibit metabolic stress and stimulate the immune response (6-8). Evidence shows that calcitriol, another vitamin D metabolite, enhances the antimicrobial effect of important cells that fight against pathogens (12). Vitamin D also activates the production of antimicrobial peptides which can be crucial in the eradication of bacterial and viral infections (10).

1) European Food Safety Authority. Novel coronavirus – where to find information, 2020. Available from
2) European Food Safety Authority. Coronavirus: no evidence that food is a source or transmission route, 2020. Available from
3) BfR. Can the new type of coronavirus be transmitted via food and toys? 2020. Available from
4) Coronavirus COVID-19. Frequently asked Questions; 2020. Available from
5) World Health Organization. Q & A on coronavirus (COVID-19), 2020. Available from
6) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak; 2020. Available from
7) European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Q & A on COVID-19, 2020. Available from
8) World Health Organization. Rolling updates on coronavirus disease (COVID-19), 2020. Available from
9) Azrielant, Shir, and Yehuda Shoenfeld. “Vitamin D and the Immune System.” The Israel Medical Association journal : IMAJ vol. 19,8 (2017): 510-511.
10) Soni, P., and Meena LS Shivangi. "Vitamin D-An Immune Modulator and Growth Inhibitor of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis H37Rv." J Mol Biol Biotech 3.1 (2018): 4.
11) Chirumbolo, Salvatore, et al. "The role of vitamin D in the immune system as a pro-survival molecule." Clinical therapeutics 39.5 (2017): 894-916.
12) Prietl, Barbara et al. “Vitamin D and immune function.” Nutrients vol. 5,7 2502-21. 5 Jul. 2013, doi:10.3390/nu5072502
13) Zmijewski, Michal A. “Vitamin D and Human Health.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 20,1 145. 3 Jan. 2019, doi:10.3390/ijms20010145
14) World Health Organization. Vitamin D for prevention of respiratory tract infections, 2017. Available from
15) Prietl, Barbara et al. “Vitamin D and immune function.” Nutrients vol. 5,7 2502-21. 5 Jul. 2013, doi:10.3390/nu5072502
16) Wyness, L. “The role of red meat in the diet: nutrition and ealth benefits.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 75.3 (2015): 1-6

For the PDF version CLICK HERE

Members area


Zip and Download

My Zip and Download list