Rethinking Food Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic

You’ve heard a lot about COVID-19—aka coronavirus, and who is at risk of severe illness from the virus. But it might surprise you to know that the same people who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19, are also at risk for severe illness from food poisoning. Foodborne illness or food poisoning can affect anyone who eats food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, or other substances. However, adults age 65 and older, people with weakened immune systems due to illness or underlying medical conditions ( i.e., diabetes, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS), and pregnant women are more likely to get sick and have a more serious illness from food poisoning.

People with weakened immune systems cannot fight germs and sickness effectively. For example, nearly half of people 65 and older with foodborne illness are hospitalized. And people on dialysis are 50 times more likely to get foodborne illness from the listeria bacteria. Pregnant women are ten times more likely to get a listeria infection.