Experts say the virus that causes Covid-19 can live on some ready-to-eat groceries for days.
But the scientists have advised the risk to consumers remains very low.
The tests were carried out for the Food Standards Agency in a laboratory and saw the SARS-CoV-2 virus smeared on packaging and food including fruit and bottled drinks that people might put in their mouth with cooking or washing.
The results varied, with most foods tested having a significant drop in levels of virus contamination over the first 24 hours.
But for peppers, bread crust, ham and cheese the infectious virus was detected for several days under some conditions, while it was present for several hours on the surfaces of croissants and pain au chocolate.
The study’s authors noted that foods and packaging used in the study were “artificially inoculated with SARS-CoV-2 and therefore are not a reflection of contamination levels found on these foods at retail, and lower levels of contamination will require less time to decline to undetectable levels”.
“The public may be interested in the finding that virus may persist in an infectious state, on foods and food packaging surfaces, for several days under certain common conditions.”
They added the results of the study “reinforce the need to rigorously follow the guidance on maintaining appropriate hygienic handling measures and display of unpackaged foods”.