It is highly unlikely that food is a source of Covid-19 contamination, experts say
Posted September 7, 2020 3:22 p.m. EDT
CNN — A team of experts on food contamination says it is highly unlikely that food is a source of Covid-19 transmission.
The International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF) looked at the evidence that coronavirus might be carried on food or its packing and found very little.
Their finding mirrors earlier reporting from the US Food and Drug Administration that there is no real risk of getting the virus that causes Covid-19 from food or food packaging.
"To date, there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging or food handling is a source or important transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 resulting in Covid-19," the organization said in a statement.
"There are no foods that should be considered a risk or warrant consideration as a vector for SARS-CoV-2."
While it is possible that people could eat something contaminated with the virus and become infected that way, it's never been seen to have happened, they said.
However, it is still prudent to emphasize good food hygiene practices, the group said.
While some countries have restricted food imports, tested imported products or asked companies to state their products are coronavirus-free, the ICMSF says none of this is necessary.
"The focus for food businesses should be on protecting food workers, consumers and restaurant patrons from becoming infected by person-to-person SARS-CoV-2 spread," they wrote.
When concerns over food contamination began
The concern over virus transmission via surfaces began in late March after a study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
"What the study showed is that under certain conditions in the laboratory, which are obviously kind of artificial, SARS-CoV-2 is detectable for up to three hours in aerosols, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel," said Jamie Lloyd-Smith, a scientist who studied how long SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, might remain on various surfaces.
But the study did not account for other factors that could help to inactivate the virus, such as sunlight or disinfectants, or look at varying levels of virus, Lloyd-Smith said.
Most experts agree that the most important thing is washing your hands, social distancing, and wearing masks are the best ways to ensure safety and spread of infection.