Frozen food a source of outbreaks


Beijing: Studies into clusters of Covid-19 cases show that contaminated cold-chain food products are the major cause of the outbreaks, highlighting the need for protection of workers within the industry, experts said.

“Research has indicated that the virus can survive on cold-chain food and packaging during long distance shipping and may cause human infection, in particular to high-risk people such as dockworkers, ” said Liu Zhaoping, a researcher at the China National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment.

“But the likelihood of food-to-human transmission is lower than other routes of transmission.”

Investigations into the source of the outbreaks in cities across China, including Beijing and the port cities of Dalian, Liaoning province, and Qingdao, Shandong province, found many of them could be traced to workers at cold storage areas, seafood processing plants and markets selling imported frozen food products, he said.

In many areas, the RNA of the Covid-19 virus was detected on the surface of frozen food such as salmon, shrimp, beef and chicken, as well as their packaging.

Most of them were imported from countries where the pandemic is still wreaking havoc, Liu said.

Meat and poultry processing facilities are more prone to outbreaks due to the cold and humid environment, where it is easier for workers to catch and transmit respiratory diseases.

Food products and their packaging are likely to be contaminated by droplets exhaled from virus carriers.

Studies have shown that the virus remains highly stable under freezing conditions, so it may survive cold-chain transportation.

“There is growing knowledge to suggest that the novel coronavirus could have a longer survival time at lower temperatures, ” said Christopher Elliott, professor of food safety at Queen’s University in the United Kingdom.

Covid-19 outbreaks in port cities such as Dalian and Tianjin were caused by harbour workers who were infected after coming into contact with frozen food and packaging, he said.

“The isolation of a live virus in the Qingdao case study has confirmed the transmissibility from food packaging to humans, ” he said.

The investigation into the Covid-19 outbreak in Qingdao for the first time isolated live samples of novel coronavirus taken from imported frozen seafood packaging, proving the possibility of virus transmission via frozen food, according to a study published by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in October.

The possibility of the virus being transmitted via frozen food was first raised after a Covid-19 outbreak at a wholesale market in Beijing in June.

Cutting boards used to handle imported salmon in the market tested positive for the virus.

Before the outbreak, Beijing had reported no new domestically transmitted cases for about two months, and the virus was effectively under control in the rest of the country. — China Daily/ANN

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In Aseanplus News

Myanmar military convoy hit by roadside bomb near Yangon: junta
Singapore Pools' Toa Payoh outlet shut after employee tested positive for Covid-19
China's CPTPP move seen as good for world
Ho Chi Minh City under pressure to reopen economy: city chief
Dinky Soliman, former Philippine Social Welfare secretary and civil society leader, dies
13 more Covid deaths, 612 infections in Cambodia
Logistics main reason for bottled water price increase in Brunei
Restructured Pertamina targets revenue of US$93bil in 2024
Thai ministry seeks to include Ranong in Andaman sandbox tourism scheme
Living with Alzheimer's: China's health time bomb

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers