COVID-19 and Nutrition


Food, Nutrition and Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic Background 



Disease Etiology
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a novel coronavirus. It has not been previously identified in humans (1). COVID-19 is defined as a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. 

Check with your local Public Health department for local testing services available.

Reported symptoms from individuals with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing (1). Older adults and individuals who have existing medical conditions such as heart or lung disease or diabetes appear to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness (2).

Country-specific symptom information


Complementary and Alternative Medicines
There is no scientific evidence supporting the use of alternative remedies to prevent or cure the illness caused by COVID-19. Some complementary and alternative therapies may not be safe (3).

Nutrition Care
For specific health conditions, see additional information: 

COVID-19: Chronic Conditions and Weakened Immunity Links

Nutrition Therapy in the Patient with COVID-19 Disease Requiring ICU Care.

Regulatory Implications - Virtual Dietetic Practice During COVID-19
Regulation specific to provincial dietetic  virtual or telehealth practice may vary across Canada. Registered dietitians can go to their respective provincial regulatory site (refer to links below) to find related information that would apply within their province. For information on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics telehealth care practices, see:


Canadian Dietetic Regulators (5)

Food Service Implications
To contain the pandemic, cities and regions within the world have been stopped many service activities. However, there are no major signs of food shortages or price hikes due to COVID-19 (4). 

No reported cases of COVID-19 have been linked to the contamination of food or food packaging (5). 

Workers in the food and agriculture sector including food industry, grocery stores, farms, hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes and other services are still in operation and require service workers to follow food safety guidelines (5). “Food facilities should be vigilant in their hygiene practices, including frequent and proper hand-washing and routine cleaning of all surfaces” (5).  

For additional information, see: COVID-19: Food Service Establishments, Long-Term Care Centres and Food Service Workers Links and Related Tools and Resources outlined below.
Resources for Professionals
Key reliable websites for information on COVID-19 and public health:


Dietetic association-specific information related to COVID-19:


In addition to this Background document, practice guidelines, web links, other professional tools and resources can be found in the PEN COVID-19 and Nutrition Knowledge Pathway under the Related Tools and Resources tab. Use the Audience, Country and Language sort buttons to narrow your search.


  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Frequently asked questions. March 27, 2020. Available from:
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). March 20, 2020. Available from:
  3. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. In the news: coronavirus and “alternative” treatments. March 30, 2020. Available from:
  4. Vos R. As COVID-19 spreads, no major concern for global food security yet. IFPRI. March 10, 2020. Available from:
  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Food safety and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). March 27. 2020. Available from:
  6. Partnership for Dietetic Education and Practice (PDEP). Canadian dietetic regulators. [cited 2020 Apr 23]. Available from: 

Target Group: All Adults
Knowledge Pathways: COVID-19 and Nutrition
 Last Updated: 2020-04-24

Current Contributors


Jane Bellman - Author

Beth Armour - Reviewer

Kerri Staden - Reviewer

Tanis Fenton - Reviewer