According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Ebola Virus is not a foodborne illness.

CDC Q&A on Ebola and Food Safety in the United StatesEbola Infographic from CDC

CDC states that Ebola can be transmitted several ways:

  • Ebola is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth) with blood or body fluids (including but not limited to urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola.
  • Ebola is spread through direct contact with objects (like needles and syringes) that have been contaminated with the virus; or infected animals.
  • Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food. 

FMI Ebola Backgrounder, Updated November 2014


In-Store Food Handling and Prevention

Food Safety Precautions and Protocols
  • The food safety protocols food retailers have in place and the sanitation training from SafeMark will give associates the tools to help prevent contamination of food. 
  • Proper hygiene, including hand washing, is the single most effective tool in addition to glove use when handling ready-to-eat-foods.
  • Ensure employees report symptoms to managers and do not work when sick. 
  • The presenting symptoms of Ebola – fever, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain – are the same as for some foodborne illness and should be immediately reported to a retail manager. 
  • Employees should be encouraged and feel comfortable reporting to their managers if they feel ill. 
  • Note: Associates who have traveled to western Africa should follow the CDC’s travel warnings and monitor symptoms for a period of three weeks after returning to the U.S. 

Information for Grocery Customers

Consistent Information to Share with Grocery Customers:
  • According to CDC:
    • Ebola is not a foodborne virus.
    • Ebola is not like the flu; it is not respiratory and is not transmitted through air, food or water.
    • One must come into close contact with the bodily fluids of a person exhibiting signs of Ebola in order to contract the virus.
    • Similar to other viruses, Ebola can survive outside the body for a period of time, but it’s highly variable.
    • Once someone recovers from Ebola, they can no longer spread the virus.
    • Experts agree that Ebola is not foodborne and an outbreak in the U.S. is very unlikely.
The Partnership for Food Safety Education offers safe food-handling procedures that reduce the risk of all foodborne illnesses 

Pharmacy Resources

Information for Pharmacy and Health Care Workers 
  • Symptoms of Ebola include (via CDC)
    • Fever (greater than 101.5°F)
    • Severe headache
    • Muscle pain
    • Weakness
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
    • Abdominal (stomach) pain
    • Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
  • Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days. (via CDC)
  • Recovery from Ebola depends on good, supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years. (via CDC)

Ebola Workplace Considerations

FMI can help food retail members identify outside legal counsel. Contact Stephanie Barnes for legal resources.


The World Health Organization (WHO) offers information on ebola and food safety.