Even though the World Health Organisation downplayed the risk of the coronavirus entering the food chain, Two cities in China have found traces of the new coronavirus in cargoes of imported frozen food.
The local Chinese authorities said the sample taken from the surface of frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil to the city of Shenzhen, and another sample from the outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp sold in the northwestern city of Xian have tested positive for the virus.
Shenzhen authorities identified the contaminated chicken is imported from Brazil’s third-largest poultry and pork exporter, Aurora.
This discovery of the virus in the food chain raises fresh concerns that the coronavirus can spread on surfaces and enter through the food chain. It is proven that viruses can survive up to two years at a temperature below 20 degrees Celsius. Still, scientists say that there is no reliable evidence so far the coronavirus can spread the frozen food.
The World Health Organization’s head of emergencies programme Mike Ryan said in a briefing, “People should not fear food, food packaging or delivery of food.”
The US Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration Department jointly said, “there is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging.”
Chinese authorities haven’t notified Brazil’s Aurora formally of the alleged contamination. Aurora assures that it takes all the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus through food.
The health authorities of Shenzhen traced and tested everyone who might have made contact with the contaminated food products. And all the test results were negative. A china-based official at a Brazilian meat exporter said, “It is hard to say at which stage the frozen chicken got infected.”
In addition to the careful screening of all meat and seafood containers coming into major ports, China has suspended meat imports from Brazil since June.