Food Safety in the Time of COVID-19: Why masks?

We know that the coronavirus is a respiratory illness, not a foodborne illness. We also know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two primary strategies to help control COVID-19: physical distancing and hand washing. So why are we seeing people wearing face masks?

The CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and to help people who are unaware that they have the virus from spreading it to others. What are the various types of face coverings and when are they used?

Respirators protect wearers from breathing in hazardous contaminants in the air. Some tasks, such as working with pesticides, may require a person to wear a respirator. If a person was required to wear a respirator before COVID-19, this requirement still holds.
Disposable facemasks. Disposable facemasks, such as surgical or medical masks, do not protect the wearer from breathing in small particles; instead the goal is to protect the wearer from splashes, sprays, large droplets or splatter. Disposable facemasks also help prevent the wearer from spreading respiratory droplets and may therefore help slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Cloth face coverings are not intended to protect the wearer from exposures. Cloth face coverings are intended to help contain the wearer’s respiratory droplets from being spread and to help slow the spread of disease. The CDC recommends cloth face coverings in public settings where physical distancing may be difficult to maintain such as in grocery stores or waiting at food pantries.
According to the CDC, your cloth face covering should:

✔️ Reach above the nose, below the chin, and completely cover the mouth and nostrils

✔️ Fit snugly against the sides of the face

✔️ Be made of multiple layers of fabric that you can still breathe through

✔️ Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damaging the material or shape

For anyone who can remember struggling to learn to sew, this video on one woman’s attempt to make a cloth face covering may brighten your day. Stay well and food-safe, Barb

Published on April 28, 2020