Even though a recent coronavirus outbreak was tied to a fresh food market in Beijing, health officials do not believe the virus can be spread through food or food packaging, the South China Morning Post reports.
Imported and domestic produce, meats and seafoods in China have been tested for COVID-19 since the June 11 outbreak, according to the newspaper.
No tests have turned up positive.
“There is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement on Wednesday. “The U.S. food safety system, overseen by our agencies, is the global leader in ensuring the safety of our food products, including product for export.”
Other international health and food organizations agree there is no proof that the virus can be spread through food or packaging.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the World Health Organization say “it is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging.”
But China is still making it harder to import some food items, citing concerns the outbreak could be linked to food from abroad. Restrictions include prohibiting products from some foreign meat plants and asking exporters to confirm the safety of their shipments.
The exact source of the market outbreak is unknown, but traces of the virus were found on a cutting board used for imported salmon.
A Chinese customs official said the risk of the spread spreading from the food trade was “extremely low.” Public health officials sent out a message through state media that eating imported food was not discouraged. The bulletin also explained the importance of proper hygiene and handling.
Health organizations also stress the importance of proper hygiene in order to reduce any sick workers from contaminating food surfaces or packaging materials.
University of Hong Kong School of Public Health epidemiology professor Benjamin Cowling told the newspaper that while “theoretically plausible”, it was “very unlikely in reality that COVID-19 could travel long distances on meat or other food products, and cause an infection after that long journey”.
“I don’t think surveillance of food products or food packaging is likely to prevent COVID-19 transmission,” he said.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.