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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Food and Packaging Unlikely to Transmit COVID-19 in Export Shipments


The International Commission on Microbiological Specification for Foods (ICMSF) evaluated the literature concerning the length of persistence of coronavirus on food and packaging. The ICMSF concluded, “to date there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging or food handling is a source or of importance as a transmission route for SARS-COV-2 resulting in COVID-19.”  This opinion conforms to the findings of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


In March, the New England Journal of Medicine noted that SARS-COV-2 is detectable for up to three hours in aerosols, for up to four hours on metallic surfaces, for 24 hours on cardboard and two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. This sensitivity to environmental exposure would not allow the virus to persist in product shipped between continents.


China claims that RNA from SARS-COV-2 was demonstrated from the skin of one sample of chicken wings shipped from a plant in Brazil. Outer packaging yielded two additional samples from which RNA was demonstrated. Authorities in China have not disclosed the methods used to show the presence of RNA of SARS-CoV-2, the level of specificity or what is more important the proportion of samples that were negative. 


The ICMSF cautions that food-processing facilities should implement state-of-the-art methods of protecting workers to prevent infection.  China has adopted a policy of banning imports from plants known to have employed infected workers.


Copyright © 2020 Simon M. Shane