There’s ‘no evidence’ of foodborne transmission of Covid-19, says WHO
Covid-19 is not a foodborne virus. There is ‘no evidence’ that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that triggers COVID-19 disease, can be transmitted in food or on food packaging, said the World Health Organization on Thursday.
WHO’s executive director of health emergencies Mike Ryan made the comments in response to reports that a dozen frozen chicken wings imported into China’s southern city of Shenzhen tested positive for COVID-19, sparking concern that contaminated food could spur outbreaks of the coronavirus - even though no human cases of coronavirus have been linked to contaminated food so far.
Why is this important. Covid-19 has already stirred up “enough fear” around the globe, and while we shouldn’t discount scientific findings, it's also important that people go about their daily lives without fear that food or food packaging could spur transmission of the coronavirus, emphasized Ryan.
“There is no evidence [that] food or the food chain is participating in transmission of this virus”, said Ryan on Thursday, at a regular press briefing. “People should not fear food or food packaging or processing or delivery of food…Our food, from a Covid-19 perspective, is safe.”
Covid-19 can be neutralized by washing hands and cooking food. Sanitizing food preparation surfaces and cooking meals thoroughly can effectively kill most viruses, added WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19 Maria Van Kerkhove.
“We know that the virus can remain on surfaces for some time, but the virus can be inactivated on your hands if you wash your hands”, said Van Kerkhove. “We have no examples of where this virus has been transmitted as a foodborne…viruses can be killed if the meat is cooked.”
“Coronaviruses cannot multiply in food; they need an animal or human host to multiply,” says the WHO’s guidance on food safety. “There is no evidence to date of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses being transmitted via food or food packaging.”