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Since a new outbreak of Covid-19 on June 11 was linked to a fresh food market in Beijing, thousands of samples of imported and domestic seafood, meat and vegetables in China have been tested for the virus. So far, all have been negative.


That fits with the consensus of international health and food organisations that there is no evidence the new coronavirus spreads through foodstuff or packaging. But it has not stopped China tightening controls on imports amid concern the outbreak may be linked to food from abroad.


Restrictions include banning products from certain foreign meat plants and asking exporters to confirm the safety of their shipments. The moves have raised concern in the US, which has a trade deal with China that involves huge volumes of food exports.


There is no evidence that people can contract Covid-19 from food or from food packaging, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement on Wednesday. The US food safety system, overseen by our agencies, is the global leader in ensuring the safety of our food products, including product for export.


Still, the outbreak has puzzled authorities in China after the capital went 55 days without a new reported infection. The source is still unknown.



It was the discovery of traces of the virus on a cutting board used for imported salmon in the citys Xinfadi wholesale market that fuelled speculation food contaminated by sick workers overseas could have brought the virus into the country.


Chinese health officials have acknowledged that contamination from overseas is just one theory, and a customs official last week noted that the risk of the coronavirus spreading via the food trade was extremely low. A public health bulletin circulated this week by state media did not discourage eating imported food, but rather emphasised proper hygiene and handling.


China and Norway, the worlds biggest producer of salmon, both agreed Norwegian fish was not the source of infection in Beijing, but that did not prevent a sharp slump in sales of seafood as products were pulled from supermarket shelves.



Likewise, guidelines for food businesses released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN and the World Health Organisation say it is highly unlikely that people can contract Covid-19 from food or food packaging.



They also underline the importance of proper hygiene to reduce the risk of food surfaces and food packaging materials being contaminated with the virus from sick workers. Research has shown that Covid-19 can survive on some surfaces for several days in lab settings. 


University of Hong Kong School of Public Health epidemiology professor Benjamin Cowling said that while theoretically plausible, it was very unlikely in reality that Covid-19 could travel long distances on meat or other food products, and cause an infection after that long journey.


I dont think surveillance of food products or food packaging is likely to prevent Covid-19 transmission, he said, adding that he was also not aware of evidence for this kind of spread of the disease even in the case of shorter distance domestic shipments.



Source: https://www.scmp.com

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Does Covid-19 spread through food? The evidence is very unlikely

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Since a new outbreak of Covid-19 on June 11 was linked to a fresh food market in Beijing, thousands of samples of imported and domestic seafood, meat and vegetables in China have been tested for the virus. So far, all have been negative.


That fits with the consensus of international health and food organisations that there is no evidence the new coronavirus spreads through foodstuff or packaging. But it has not stopped China tightening controls on imports amid concern the outbreak may be linked to food from abroad.


Restrictions include banning products from certain foreign meat plants and asking exporters to confirm the safety of their shipments. The moves have raised concern in the US, which has a trade deal with China that involves huge volumes of food exports.


There is no evidence that people can contract Covid-19 from food or from food packaging, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement on Wednesday. The US food safety system, overseen by our agencies, is the global leader in ensuring the safety of our food products, including product for export.


Still, the outbreak has puzzled authorities in China after the capital went 55 days without a new reported infection. The source is still unknown.



It was the discovery of traces of the virus on a cutting board used for imported salmon in the citys Xinfadi wholesale market that fuelled speculation food contaminated by sick workers overseas could have brought the virus into the country.


Chinese health officials have acknowledged that contamination from overseas is just one theory, and a customs official last week noted that the risk of the coronavirus spreading via the food trade was extremely low. A public health bulletin circulated this week by state media did not discourage eating imported food, but rather emphasised proper hygiene and handling.


China and Norway, the worlds biggest producer of salmon, both agreed Norwegian fish was not the source of infection in Beijing, but that did not prevent a sharp slump in sales of seafood as products were pulled from supermarket shelves.



Likewise, guidelines for food businesses released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN and the World Health Organisation say it is highly unlikely that people can contract Covid-19 from food or food packaging.



They also underline the importance of proper hygiene to reduce the risk of food surfaces and food packaging materials being contaminated with the virus from sick workers. Research has shown that Covid-19 can survive on some surfaces for several days in lab settings. 


University of Hong Kong School of Public Health epidemiology professor Benjamin Cowling said that while theoretically plausible, it was very unlikely in reality that Covid-19 could travel long distances on meat or other food products, and cause an infection after that long journey.


I dont think surveillance of food products or food packaging is likely to prevent Covid-19 transmission, he said, adding that he was also not aware of evidence for this kind of spread of the disease even in the case of shorter distance domestic shipments.



Source: https://www.scmp.com

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