Coronavirus in Switzerland: Is it still OK to have a cheese fondue?

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Coronavirus in Switzerland: Is it still OK to have a cheese fondue?
Whether in the water or on land, fondue is safe to eat. Photo by AFP

As colder weather is approaching, Swiss health experts are answering a very pertinent question: is it safe to eat the cheese fondue during the pandemic? Seriously.


Though it may seem like a cheesy concern, it is easy to see why some people may be weary of dipping their forks and pieces of bread into a communal pot.

But experts say this practice is perfectly safe.

“A risk associated with fondue? Certainly not", Didier Pittet, the head of the infection prevention and control service at Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), said in an interview. 

That’s because cheese in a fondue is melted at about 80 degrees, destroying pathogenic germs.

This pertains to the co-called ‘half-and-half fondue’, which usually contains Vacherin, Gruyère and white wine, as well as to the Valais version where raclette cheese is added.

READ MORE: Switzerland begins criminal investigation against cheesemaker over multiple deaths 

But what about the vacherin fondue, which is eaten warm and for which the temperature should not exceed 50 degrees?

Yup, that is safe too.


“The fondue is hot and the virus does not survive in it," said Yann Hulmann, spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

“Furthermore, the virus is not transmitted through the digestive tract, " he added.

Hulmann pointed out, however, that while the fondue is safe to eat, the risk lies in how people gather around the pot.

“As soon as we decide to share a fondue, we should not sit less than 1.5 metres from the other guests”, he said.

“From this point of view, if someone is contagious, the risk of others being infected is high”, he added.

Philippe Bardet, the director of the Cheese Professionals Association of the Gruyère region, told 24 Heures that while eating a cheese fondue, everyone keeps their own forks. 

However, this is not the case with the Chinese fondue, where forks are left in the pot while the meat is cooking, so there is a chance of taking someone else’s fork by mistake.

Generally speaking, however, there’s no evidence to date that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus.



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