Scientists have found evidence that imported frozen food packaging materials are the primary cause of seven COVID-19 outbreaks and close to 700 cases in China.
There is heightened speculation that cold-chain food serve as a potent pathway for SARS-CoV-2 and has the ability to present risk for the transmission of virus between regions and countries. Scientists added that all food handlers and processors of imported frozen food must wear proper protection and undergo daily monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms. Testing should be done at regular intervals. The warning is issued after the China CDC Weekly released the reports that seven outbreaks and 689 cases were due to imported cold-chain foods from June 2020 to mid-July 2021.
The sampled findings were mostly from the items stored in cold storages, and first contact were the workers handling the food and operating the transport of the items.
As such, researchers claim strong association with cold-chain foods as coronavirus carriers, and food handlers or operators are at a high risk of virus exposure.
The pandemic has dramatically impacted the global food system, with both direct and indirect effects. These effects has lead to a growing concern and economic difficulty for businesses, consumers, and communities, despite not being a primary food safety concern or a foodborne disease.
Due to this, China launched a program in JUly 2020 to make coronavirus screening for packaged frozen food, produced locally or internationally.
“The survival and recovery of SARS-CoV-2 in certain foods highlighted the importance of safe food handling practices in mitigating any public health concerns related to SARS-CoV-2-contaminated foods,” said researchers.