COVID-19:  Consumer Resources

Last Updated: March 24, 2020
The U.S. rice industry is dedicated to providing safe, healthy, and nutritious food for consumers here and around the world.  Food safety standards in the United States are among the most stringent and comprehensive in the world.  In this time of great uncertainty, USA Rice members are taking extra steps to ensure the safety of employees and the communities and customers they serve.

Information on COVID-19 is changing rapidly. We have attempted to collect relevant and important information for consumers here.  If you have other questions, please reach out to us at riceinfo@usarice.com.  Media inquiries to media@usarice.com.

Information and resources for industry can be found here: usarice.com/covid19.

USA Rice Statement on Domestic Rice Supply

Bowl of cooked white rice

U.S. consumers need not be concerned about a shortage of U.S.-grown rice.  There is no shortage.  Rice is a nutritious and inexpensive staple that when kept under the right conditions can last almost indefinitely, so it makes sense consumers would want an ample supply on hand during this crisis. 

"If you see depleted rice shelves in your local grocery store, it is not a supply problem, it is a signifier of changing logistics in the retail market.  For a few years now, stores that used to keep one month or more of products on hand have largely shifted to a ‘just-in-time’ model to improve their efficiency.  When there is a surge in consumer interest for a particular product, supplies on hand may be depleted, but will be quickly replenished.  This is the case for U.S.-grown rice.

"Not only are shipments of sustainably-grown U.S. rice on the way to stores now, but this is the time of year when our thousands of family farmers are out in the fields or preparing to be, planting the next crop to ensure our supply of delicious, safe rice never runs out.”

  Betsy Ward, USA Rice President & CEO (March 17, 2020)

Additional Resources

FAQs on COVID-19 & Food Safety
Q: Can a person contract Coronavirus from food?
A: Coronavirus is a respiratory virus spread through respiratory droplets. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not consider COVID-19 to be a foodborne illness, but similar actions to prevent foodborne illness can be taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The most important actions to take include proper handwashing using soap and water and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, frequent cleaning and sanitation of touch points, and staying home when sick or caring for someone who is sick. 
Q: Can a person contract Coronavirus by touching food or food packaging?
A: There is no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19) is transmitted through food or food packaging. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Q: Is the U.S. food supply safe?
A: The FDA and USDA, which oversee food safety standards and compliance, have regulations and systems in place to ensure for the highest levels of food safety at all times.
Q: How can food suppliers guarantee American consumers that the food they are putting into the market is safe and free from the virus?
A: According to multiple public health agencies around the world, including USDA, CDC, WHO, FDA and EFSA coronaviruses are primarily spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets.  Coronaviruses do not grow in foods, and these viruses are known to have poor survivability on surfaces; therefore, packaging of food also pose a very low risk of spreading the virus.  Federal food safety agencies remain alert to identify potential other food safety risks and inform consumers as appropriate, but it is always important for consumers to follow cooking instructions available on food packaging and labeling to ensure safe consumption of food. 
Q: What should consumers do with the food they already have at home to remain safe? 
A: Practice good kitchen habits including washing hands and surfaces often, separating raw meat from other foods, cooking foods to the right temperature, and refrigerating foods promptly when handling or preparing food (clean, separate, cook, and chill).  Rice is not a "ready to eat" food as defined by FDA (21 CFR 117.3), because it cannot be eaten raw. Rice must be cooked in boiling water for 20+ minutes prior to consumption. That cooking process kills any germs/viruses/etc. and makes it safe to eat. 

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