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April 2020

How to eat well and eat safely during a pandemic

We're writing to give you an update on our program's response to the COVID-19 outbreak. As of now, all of our scheduled public events are cancelled through May 3, 2020. As the situation continues to evolve, we will strive to keep you updated through email, our website, and social media.

We also understand that for many people, sheltering at home means more time than usual to engage with food! And more questions than usual about the safety of procuring and preparing food. So although we can't be with you in person, we'd like to share some online resources that we hope you'll find useful, on the topic of food safety in relation to COVID-19.
For any food safety questions you might have, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Where to start

UCANR has compiled a great set of resources on all sorts of topics relating to food and COVID-19, including resources specific to the Bay Area. Explore our web page here...and check out these downloadable quick info sheets:
UCANR COVID-19 and food safety FAQ
How to Stay Food Secure and Eat Well Despite COVID-19

Kansas State University also has a site that makes a great one-stop shop for science-based information regarding food safety and COVID-19.

And of course, from the US government, the Centers for Disease ControlFood and Drug Administration, and US Department of Agriculture each have their own pages with recommendations, FAQs, and trusted information.
 

Other digestible sources of scientifically sound information

For blog readers: J. Kenji López-Alt, a science-minded food writer and San Mateo-based chef, has put together this article for Serious Eats, answering commonly asked questions: Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide

For podcast listeners: Science Vs, an irreverent and well-researched popular science podcast, has been doing a series of COVID-related episodes, including this 24-minute episode on food shopping: Coronavirus: Should I Disinfect EVERYTHING?

For NPR fans: Here's an 8-minute piece by the Life Kit program on safe grocery shopping: No, You Don't Need To Disinfect Your Groceries. But Here's How To Shop Safely
 

How to keep getting fresh produce and support local farmers

UCANR has put together a list of resources to help you connect directly with the people who grow your fruits and vegetables during this difficult time: COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place Direct-from-farms Food Resources

Bay Area Farmers' markets are still open! This article by CUESA offers advice on safe market shopping: 12 Tips for Shopping at the Farmers Market While Social Distancing
 

Taking out and ordering in

MFP advisor Dr. Erin DiCaprio answers questions about safe handling of takeout food in this article: Is takeout safe? A UC Davis virologist shares how to stay healthy and support local restaurants
 

Keep up those safe food storage and preservation practices!

If you find yourself buying in bulk in order to reduce the number of times you need to go to the store, here are some food safety tips to keep in mind: Bulk Food Buying During Coronavirus

The USDA's FoodKeeper App is a great resource-- whether or not we're in the middle of a pandemic-- for planning how to store food safely. It's especially worth checking out if you've heard people recommending that you quarantine your groceries before consuming them.
 

The take-home messages

  • COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness, and there have been no known cases of transmission through contaminated items of food. 
  • Disinfecting your groceries is not a crazy thing to do, but it's also not the most effective way to prevent yourself from getting sick. And the last thing we want you to do is to use dangerous chemicals or unsafe storage practices that risk making you ill in other ways!
  • For many of us, food shopping does represent a significant risk of infection simply because it's become one of the only times we interact with many other people outside the home. Please use the proper precautions when doing it!


Best wishes from your friends at the MFP program. We're hoping you stay well and continue to enjoy healthy food during this difficult time. Stay tuned for more resources on food science and learning to preserve, in our next email!