Frozen Food and the Threat of SARS-CoV-2
: 5 Feb 2021
Sector: Food & Beverage
The WHO, the FAO Codex Alimentarius, the US CDC, the EU CDC, and other international organizations have made it clear that SARS-Cov-2 is not a foodborne disease. “There is no evidence to date of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses being transmitted via food or food packaging…. It is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging” (www.fao.org).
However, there is evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was transferred on food packaging across international borders. Chinese authorities in 2020 inspected and sampled millions of cold-chain foods and in a few cases blocked the import of meat or fish because testing revealed the presence of the virus’ genetic material. In October, the Chinese CDC announced that a “living coronavirus” was isolated in Qingdao from a package of imported frozen cod. Thus, workers in the cold-chain sector are in some cases potentially at risk of coming into contact with COVID-19 – not from a colleague, but from the products they handle.
Meanwhile, several studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 can “survive” on packaging for days, depending on the type of material and the ambient conditions. Even if COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness and there is no risk of infection from eating food, shouldn’t we consider enhancing frozen food handling practices when cold chain workers are at risk even when their co-workers are COVID-19 negative?
Further, how should we address the possibility that positive COVID-19 tests may be false positives?
What can the meat and seafood industries do to protect their workers and to prevent their products from being rejected because of the presence of trace amounts of viral genetic material on packaging surfaces?
To answer such questions and more, Affidia will host this free, virtual event on 5 February, 2021. The event will take place from 12:00 -13:00 CET (Rome, Berlin time) / 9pm-10pm CST (Shanghai time) / 8am-9am EST (New York Time).
One week before the event, participants may access the speakers’ presentations and send questions and comments in advance. Affidia will select the most frequently asked and relevant questions to be addressed during the panel discussion.
The event will remain available on demand at affidiajournal.com.