COVID-19 Virus; Don’t spread fear on frozen food, WHO clarifies

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Frozen Food
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Amid rising concerns and fear across the globe citing coronavirus traces being found in imported frozen chicken wings from Brazil and on the outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp in China, the World Health Organization (WHO) has under-stated the matter. 

The global health organization said that there is “no evidence” to date to which suggests that the virus can be transmitted through food.

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergency program, said “People should not fear food, or food packaging or processing or delivery of food. Food is very important. And I would hate to think that we would create an impression that there’s a problem with our food or there’s a problem with our food chain. We’re under enough pressure as it is,”

Earlier China had reported finding the presence of coronavirus genetic material, or RNA on the surface of imported frozen food over the last four days. Several samples which were taken from the outer packaging of frozen seafood, some of which had been shipped in from Ecuador, also tested positive for virus RNA in China’s Anhui, Shaanxi and Shandong provinces.

Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry said that it was seeking clarification on the Chinese findings. Ecuador’s production minister, Ivan Ontaneda has remarked that the country maintains strict protocols and cannot be held responsible for what happens to goods after they leave the country.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said that even if the virus did transmit through food, which evidence does not suggest, it can be killed before eating it.

“If the virus is actually in the food, and we have no examples of where this virus has been transmitted as a foodborne, whereas someone has consumed a food product, the viruses can be killed like another virus as well, can be killed if the meat is cooked,” Dr. Kerkhove said.

“People are already scared enough, fearful enough in the COVID pandemic,” Dr. Ryan added. It’s important that we track findings like this and it’s important that we don’t discount scientific evidence where we find it. But it’s also important that people can go about their daily lives without fear.” he said.


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