Coronavirus: Food safety concerns after Beijing outbreak

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Frozen salmon was highlighted as a cause of the Beijing outbreak
Frozen salmon was highlighted as a cause of the Beijing outbreak

Related tags: coronavirus

Concerns about food safety have been raised following a coronavirus outbreak in Beijing, which has been linked to frozen imported salmon.

Reports claimed that the cases were found to be associated with the Xinfadi Agricultural Wholesale Market. Authorities reported that a number of surfaces in the market tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, including a cutting board in a booth handling imported salmon. 

The UK Food Standards Agency has consistently said that the probability of UK consumers receiving potentially infectious exposures to SARS-CoV-2 via the consumption of food or the handling of food contact materials or packaging is “negligible.” 

However, a spokesman for the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) said it was monitoring the situation closely. 

The spokesman told Food Manufacture​: “BFFF is aware of reports circulating in the media surrounding the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing, including the claims that its transmission route could have been frozen food. 

 

Monitoring

“We are monitoring the situation closely and the Government is working hard to respond to such claims. As always, we will be led by the scientific evidence as and when it is published.”  

Meanwhile, researchers are calling for detection tools for SARS-CoV-2 to ensure the safety of the food supply chain. 

Writing in Trends in Food Science & Technology​ on the ‘Safety of foods, food supply chain and environment within the COVID-19 pandemic’, ​leading scientists said that professionals in the food sector had many challenges ahead, such as ensuring food safety, detecting SARS-CoV-2 in environments where food is produced, processed and delivered, as well as sanitising surfaces and working environments adequately, among others. 

Global interes​ 

In the report, the scientists said: As the global interest for coronavirus is focused on human health, the full impact of the pandemic on the food supply chain and food industries is not yet known. However, the adverse effects on food systems and people along the food supply chain are already evident. 

“For this reason, the development of detection tools for SARS-CoV-2 that can be applied to foods is essential to ensure food safety and prevent the disruption of food supply chains.”

The scientists were from Galanakis Laboratories, Chania, Greece; the College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and the Food Waste Recovery Group, ISEKI Food Association, Vienna, Austria. 

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