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Coronavirus, does it survive in the fridge?

April 09, 2020
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Coronavirus, does it survive in the fridge?

Against the new coronavirus we have to follow rigid measures such as social distancing and some hygienic rules such as washing your hands often with soap and water for a minute, not touching your face with dirty hands and using on hands and surfaces a disinfectant that contains at least 60% alcohol. Scientific studies have observed that the virus survives outside the body on surfaces even for a few days. For this reason, a question that has been asked to scientists is whether the virus, once contaminated a food package, can resist in the fridge.

Coronavirus and fridge, is there a risk?

It is possible that the virus survives in the fridge but with a viral load that decays quickly. This was stated by a virologist from the Gladstone Institutes of San Francisco, Warner Greene, based on a study published in 2010 by an American team (Casanova et al, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2010). In this study, the researchers analyzed the behavior of the SARS virus by observing that it managed to survive for up to 28 days in temperature conditions below 4° C and with low humidity levels, the environment that is in the fridge. Two criticisms can be made about the conclusion of Dr. Greene. The first is that the study under examination analyzed the behavior of the SARS virus, which, although it belongs to the same strain of the novel coronavirus, shows some differences. It is plausible to assume that also the novel coronavirus can resist at low temperatures and low humidity but there is no certainty. The second is that the viral load should be analyzed, that is, how long would the novel coronavirus remain a threat? In any case, since there are no certainties yet, it is good to consider that the virus may be present in the fridge. So what should be done?

Coronavirus, do I need to disinfect food bags?

Dr Greene recommends, in light of the previous observations, to disinfect the food packages with a solution of water and alcohol at least 60% before putting them back in the fridge. And this can certainly be a valid approach. However, not all scientists agree with Dr. Greene. In fact, as pointed out by Dr. Pregliasco, virologist of the University of Milan, the presence of the virus alone is not enough for the infection. For this to happen you have to bring the infected hands to your eyes, nose and mouth. In addition, a package of food is contaminated only if a person has coughed or sneezed nearby, so it is a special case.

Therefore, Pregliasco does not recommend disinfecting any food package but washing your hands often. We add that surely in this period there is a lot of confusion, since, as in this case, the opinions within the scientific community are conflicting. So, while we are waiting to have more clarity, in our opinion, it is good to use every possible precaution and in any case never forget to wash your hands well with soap and water and / or use an alcohol-based disinfectant both before and after putting away the shopping and also every time you handle a food package.

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