COVID-19 Detected on Brazilian Frozen ChickenBy Jan Hogewoning | Tue, 08/18/2020 - 09:33
A new case has emerged of food supposedly carrying COVID-19 traces. Last Thursday, authorities in the Chinese city of Shenzen reported that the SARS-CoV-2 virus had been detected on frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil. After a sample tested positive, local authorities reportedly tested every local handler who could have been in contact with the wings and every individual tested negative. Currently, authorities are testing every related product from the same company and they have disinfected the local warehouse unit. This case follows that of a case of imported shrimp from Ecuador that tested positive in July.
Chinese authorities are warning consumers to be cautious when purchasing imported meat and shellfish. However, WHO has stressed that the probability of contracting the virus from foodstuffs is very small. “To date, there is no evidence that viruses that cause respiratory illness are transmitted through food or food packaging. Coronaviruses cannot multiply in food; they need an animal or human host to multiply,” says WHO.
David Hui Shu-cheong, a respiratory medicine expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, is cited by CNN Español stating that it is most likely that contamination happens during product packaging. This does not, however, mean that products are infectious as the detected RNA of the virus could be dead. At the same time, however, if this RNA were capable of cultivation in a laboratory, it would indeed be able to infect humans. COVID-19 is capable of surviving freezing temperatures and be active when thawed.
COVID-19 detections could have harmful consequences for exporters to Chinese markets. In July, MBN reported that Chinese authorities had started to inspect frozen meat imports. At the time, Reuters reported, several imports from a range of overseas suppliers had already been blocked. The primary reason for this, however, was the outbreak of COVID-19 at processing plants. As long as Mexican meat processing plants keep employee wide outbreaks at bay, the risks of any COVID-19 detections on their frozen goods will be minimal.