Can coronavirus spread through food? What to know as you prepare a Christmas meal

As families prepare to make Christmas dishes, health officials have urged people to take steps reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

So, what should you know if you’re making holiday dinners and treats?

While there’s no evidence of direct coronavirus spread from eating or handling food, there could be risks in the kitchen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in guidance this month.

“It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging, or utensils that have the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes,” health officials said.

To help protect against the coronavirus, the CDC recommends people use soap and water or hand sanitizer after going to the grocery store. It’s also recommended everyone wash their hands before making or eating meals.

“The risk of infection by the virus from food products, food packaging, or bags is thought to be very low,” the CDC said in August. “Currently, no cases of COVID-19 have been identified where infection was thought to have occurred by touching food, food packaging, or shopping bags.”

At holiday dinners, health officials recommend disinfecting surfaces that people often touch. It’s also best to consider limiting the number of people in the kitchen and offering single-use silverware and condiments, McClatchy News reported in November.

Though experts say COVID-19 may be transmitted when someone touches a contaminated surface, the disease is mainly thought to spread when sick people release droplets from their bodies while breathing, speaking, coughing or sneezing. Health officials say face coverings can help offer protection.

“Wear a mask while preparing food for or serving food to others who don’t live in your household,” according to the CDC.

This Christmas, health experts have urged Americans to avoid traveling as U.S. coronavirus cases climb. Health officials say smaller holiday dinners with people in your household are the safest, while gathering with a group you don’t live with poses a higher risk of spreading the virus.