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

Persistence of viral contamination on frozen meat and packaging


A recent study1 demonstrated persistence of two surrogates of SARS-CoV-2 (murine hepatitis virus and transmissible gastroenteritis virus) on beef, pork, chicken and salmon both refrigerated and frozen for over 30 days.


The report lends credence to the action by China in sampling outer and inner packaging and imported products for SARS-CoV-2 virus before release from warehouses to distribution. A report in the China CDC Weekly2 documented seven outbreaks resulting in 689 cases apparently caused by contact with contaminated outer packaging of frozen imported products. The article recorded 1,455 isolations of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid from 56 million samples, with all but 7 from imported products. Of the implicated consignments 11 were from the E.U., 6 from South America, 2 from North America, 9 from Asian nations and 2 from African nations.


Given the probability that COVID can be transmitted on food products and packaging, the research team stressed the need for "rigorous and sustained food sanitation and hygiene for the harvest, transport, processing and distribution of foods".  It is obvious that plants demonstrating deficiencies in controlling COVID and with an unacceptable prevalence among workers, there is a possibility of transmission through food products.  The results as published are contrary to previous assurances by the WHO that food does not serve as a vehicle of infection.


1 Bailey, E.S. et al. Persistence of Coronavirus Surrogates on Meat and Fish Product during Long-Term Storage. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. June 28, 2022.


2  Wang, J et al. Perspectives. Covid-19 Outbreaks Linked to Imported Frozen Foods in China. Status and Challenges. China CDC Weekly. 4:483-487 (2022)


Copyright © 2022 Simon M. Shane