Food in the time of COVID-19

Follow these three steps to stay safe and prepare healthy meals
A woman in a plaid shirt leans on a grocery cart while holding a receipt.

It is now more important than ever to support your health through good nutrition and safe food handling practices. This is what the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says about the possible transmission of COVID-19 through food:

  • Scientists and food safety authorities across the world are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued precautionary recommendations including advice on the need to continue to follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as washing hands, cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods.

These steps will help you follow safe food practices and eat a healthy diet while you’re at home.

1. Plan what you and your family want to eat for the next 1-2 weeks.

  • Check your pantry, fridge and freezer to see what you already have on hand.
  • Plan meals and snacks with these foods in mind. Check your favourite recipe books or websites for ideas. Have a look at the Heart & Stroke Meal Planning Toolkit.
  • Plan to stock up on vegetables and fruit, whole grains and a variety of proteins, especially plant-based ones.
  • Make a grocery list.
  • Read Health Canada’s advice on healthy eating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. When grocery shopping

  • If possible, order groceries on-line for delivery or pick-up.
  • If you’re a senior or have a health condition, it’s strongly recommended to avoid public places such as grocery stores. If you have no other option, check your local store to see if they have a dedicated hour for seniors and at-risk members of the community to shop.
  • If going to the store, come prepared with disinfectant wipes for the grocery carts.   
  • Organize your list by areas of the store, to limit the time you spend there.
  • Practice physical distancing in the store (keeping two metres, about the length of a hockey stick, away from other people).
  • Only touch items you are going to purchase. 
  • If your grocery store currently allows reusable bags, make sure yours are clean. Or use plastic bags for packing your groceries
  • Wash or use a disinfectant gel for your hands, before and after shopping.  

3. Putting your food away

  • Wash your hands.
  • Unpack your groceries on a clean surface.
  • Wash all produce under cold running water.
  • Wipe down packages with a solution of soap and water or disinfectant wipes.
  • Put groceries away and clean your counters well with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (one teaspoon of bleach for each cup of water).
  • Wash your hands.
  • Read Health Canada’s advice on making the most of your food supply during the pandemic.

Relying on a food bank:

If you need support getting enough to eat, Food Banks Canada can help you locate the nearest food bank. Check to see what services they are providing during the pandemic; some are distributing emergency relief food boxes. If you go to the local food bank, practice physical distancing and wash your hands or use a disinfectant gel, before and after your visit.

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