COVID-19 Remains Alive on These Foods for up to a Week

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Shocked woman holding broccoli
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Looking for another way to keep COVID-19 at bay this winter? Make sure to carefully wash produce and to thoroughly clean your hands after touching foods and food packaging.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can live on certain foods for up to one week, according to a recent study by the U.K. government’s Food Standards Agency.

As part of the research, the coronavirus was intentionally added to both foods and food packaging. The amount of virus placed on these items was designed to replicate a sneeze or cough from an infected person.

Researchers then examined how long the virus remained intact on the foods.

Some of the foods in question — and the number of days the virus can survive on them — are:

  • Broccoli stored at ambient temperature (around 73 degrees Fahrenheit): Up to five days
  • Cheddar cheese stored chilled (around 43 degrees): Up to seven days
  • Sliced ham stored chilled: Up to seven days
  • Plastic bottle stored chilled: Up to several days
  • Peppers stored chilled: Up to seven days

Before you panic, note that your risk of getting the coronavirus this way is not great. According to a summary of the FSA findings:

“For most food products tested there was a ‘significant drop’ in the levels of virus contamination over the first 24 hours. These findings confirm that the overall risk to consumers from coronavirus via food remains very low.”

Still, the U.K. agency is urging people to remember to wash produce before eating it and to wash their hands thoroughly after preparing food and before eating it.

COVID-19 isn’t the only health threat you face today: The flu season is off to a rough start. For more on staying healthy, check out “Is It Too Late to Get a Flu Shot?