Latest CFIA information for consumers on food and animal health – COVID-19
Last updated: 2020-03-29, 10:30 (EDT)
Due to the evolving nature of a pandemic, the information contained on this page will be updated regularly.
On this page
- Food safety and COVID-19
- Food safety and Canada's food supply
- COVID-19 transmission through food
- Government of Canada actions to ensure there are no food shortages
- CFIA services in case of reduction in inspection staff due to COVID-19
- Food safety in food processing plants in the event of a CFIA inspector or veterinarian or a food worker becoming infected with COVID-19
- Animal health and COVID-19
- Origin of COVID-19 virus
- Transmission of COVID-19 by livestock and pets
- Animal to human transmission of COVID-19
- Precautionary measures around animals
- Precautionary measure for livestock producers
- Pet illness following exposure to COVID-19
- Tests for COVID-19 in animals
- Vaccine against the COVID-19 virus for animals
- Animals recently imported from affected areas
Food safety and COVID-19
Food safety and Canada's food supply
The CFIA has strong measures in place to ensure the safety of Canada's food supply. There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19.
The CFIA recommends that all Canadians continue to follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as washing hands, cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods.
There is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages coming from affected regions. The risk of spread from products shipped over a period of days or weeks at room temperature is very low.
The CFIA continues to monitor the current situation closely in collaboration with our federal, provincial, territorial and international partners. If the CFIA becomes aware of a potential food safety risk, appropriate actions will be taken to protect Canada's food supply.
More information about the Government of Canada's actions to maintain a safe and stable food supply
COVID-19 transmission through food
Scientists and food safety authorities across the world are closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19. There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued precautionary recommendations including advice on the need to continue to follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as washing hands, cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods. More information can be found on the WHO website.
Government of Canada actions to ensure there are no food shortages
There are currently no food shortages in Canada. There have been no disruptions to food production, import or export activities.
The CFIA will continue to deliver critical services that preserve the integrity of Canada's Food Safety System while safeguarding its animal and plant resource base. The CFIA is committed to maintaining critical inspection services and continues to refine its operational plans and implement mitigation measures to address potential inspector absenteeism.
The Government of Canada is working collaboratively with industry and its federal, provincial and territorial partners to closely monitor the food supply chain to identify any potential shortages and co-develop needed interventions.
CFIA services in case of reduction in inspection staff due to COVID-19
The CFIA understands the concerns of industry and consumers with respect to COVID-19 and the unprecedented impact around the globe on businesses, economies and people. The CFIA will continue to deliver critical services that serve to preserve the integrity of Canada's Food Safety System while safeguarding its animal and plant resource base.
CFIA offices moving to appointment only
Food safety in food processing plants in the event of a CFIA inspector or veterinarian or a food worker becoming infected with COVID-19
The CFIA does not anticipate any food product recalls or withdrawals from the market due to COVID-19 contamination. Currently, there have been no reported cases of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19.
The CFIA is committed to protecting the health and safety of its employees while maintaining critical inspection services. The CFIA will continue to deliver those critical services that serve to preserve the integrity of Canada's food safety system while safeguarding its animal and plant resource base.
Animal Health and COVID-19
Origin of COVID-19 virus
The exact source of this virus is currently unknown. However, experts currently think that the virus originated from bats and may have passed through an intermediary animal source (currently unknown) in China before being transmitted to humans. Since that time, the virus has adapted to humans and can now spread efficiently from human to human.
More information on prevention and risks of COVID-19.
Get all the facts about COVID-19.
Transmission of COVID-19 by livestock and pets
Although data is still limited, the CFIA is not aware of any reports worldwide of any animal getting sick after exposure to a human case, despite the large outbreak in humans. To date, there have been no reports of livestock being infected or sick with COVID-19 virus anywhere.
There are still many unknowns and scientists are trying to understand if and how it affects animals. There have been reports of two dogs in Hong Kong testing positive for COVID-19 viral material following exposure to a human COVID-19 case. Both of the dogs did not show any signs of being sick, and according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), there is no evidence that pets play a role in transmitting the disease to humans.
Animal to human transmission of COVID-19
The current spread of COVID-19 is as a result of human to human transmission. According to the OIE, there is no evidence that pets play a role in transmitting the disease to humans. Scientists are still trying to understand if and how it affects animals. This is an area that continues to be studied.
Precautionary measures around animals
As a precautionary measure, we recommend that people with COVID-19 symptoms or those who are self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case, should follow similar recommendations around animals, as they would around other people in these circumstances:
- avoid close contact with animals during your illness
- practise good handwashing and avoid coughing and sneezing on your animals
- do not visit farms or contact livestock
- if possible, have another member of your household care for your animals
- if this is not possible, always wash your hands before and after touching animals, their food and supplies
- limit your animal's contact with other people and animals outside the household until your illness is resolved
Pets contribute to our overall happiness and well-being, especially in times of stress. If you are feeling well (no symptoms of COVID-19) and are not self-isolating because of COVID-19 illness, taking walks with your dog and/or spending other time with your pet can contribute to keeping both you and your pet healthy.
Precautionary measure for livestock producers
Livestock producers should follow normal biosecurity measures as always, particularly if they have COVID-19 symptoms or are self-isolating due to contact with a COVID-19 case. In addition to avoiding contact with animals, this includes excluding visitors or workers who:
- have travelled abroad in the last 14 days
- are ill, especially with symptoms of COVID-19
- have been in contact with a confirmed or suspected case in the last 14 days.
For more information on-farm disease prevention, producers are encouraged to consult the:
- National Biosecurity Standards and Biosecurity Principles
- National Farm-Level Biosecurity Planning Guide.
These measures are recommended as a precaution, and are basic practices to prevent transmission of diseases between humans and animals. If you have concerns, seek professional advice from your veterinarian or a public health professional who can help to answer your questions.
Pet illness following exposure to COVID-19
Currently, there is no evidence that pets or other animals can become ill after exposure to the virus, so their illness is most likely unrelated. If your animal develops respiratory illness, talk to your veterinarian about other more common respiratory pathogens and other conditions that could be the cause of their illness. If you feel that your pet needs veterinary care, call your veterinarian rather than just going to the clinic. This will help your veterinarian assess the situation and determine if your pet needs to be seen. Their illness is most likely unrelated and measures including giving up your animal would not be needed.
Tests for COVID-19 in animals
Testing animals for COVID-19 is not recommended, as the virus is primarily transmitted person-to-person and not through animal contact. If your animal develops respiratory illness, talk to your veterinarian about other more common respiratory pathogens and other conditions that could be the cause of their illness.
Vaccine against the COVID-19 virus for animals
Currently, there are no licenced commercial vaccines against COVID-19 virus available in Canada for animals. There is no evidence that vaccinating animals with commercially available vaccines for other coronaviruses will provide cross-protection against COVID-19 virus.
Animals recently imported from affected areas
All animals entering Canada must meet import requirements set out by the CFIA. There are currently no specific requirements in place in Canada restricting animal importation related to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, until we know more, importers, rescue organizations and adoptive families should postpone importing any animals as much as possible.
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