Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Coronavirus Found on Frozen Food Imported to China. Should You Be Worried?

Health + Wellness
Coronavirus Found on Frozen Food Imported to China. Should You Be Worried?
The frozen meat section at a supermarket in Hong Kong, China, in February. Chukrut Budrul / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Imported frozen food in three Chinese cities has tested positive for the new coronavirus, but public health experts say you still shouldn't worry too much about catching the virus from food or packaging.


In the last four days, the virus turned up on Brazilian chicken wings in Shenzhen, packaging for Ecuadorian shrimp in Wuhu and imported seafood packaging in Yantai, NBC News reported.

"All the citizens should be cautious in buying imported frozen meat products and aquatic products in recent days," the Shenzhen Municipal Health Commission said Thursday when it announced its findings about the chicken wings.

However, the commission traced and tested everyone who had come in contact with the chicken, and no one tested positively for COVID-19. And the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised people not to worry about catching the virus from their food.

"People should not fear food, or food packaging or processing or delivery of food," WHO head of emergencies programme Mike Ryan said in a briefing, as Reuters reported. "There is no evidence that food or the food chain is participating in transmission of this virus. And people should feel comfortable and safe."

Yale disease ecologist Brandon Ogbunu agreed. He pointed out that the packaging tests only detect virus genetic material, or RNA.

"This is just detecting the signature that the virus has been there at some point," he told The New York Times.

To prove the virus on the packaging was still infectious, researchers would have to prove it could reproduce itself in a lab.

It is also unlikely the virus would survive the freezing and thawing process in tact.

"Yes, we should continue to wash our hands and be mindful of surfaces where a lot of individuals are," Ogbunu said. "But it's close proximity to others that can really facilitate transmission."

This echoes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines about the virus and food.

"Coronaviruses, like the one that causes COVID-19, are thought to spread mostly person-to-person through respiratory droplets when someone coughs, sneezes, or talks," the CDC wrote July 25. "It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food or food packaging, that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."

Still, New Zealand is now investigating whether frozen food packages could be the cause of a new outbreak in the country that broke a more than 100 day streak of no new cases, Newsweek reported.

One of the cases was connected to a worker who handled imports at a frozen food storage plant.

"We're not ruling anything out," Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand's Director-General of Health, said during a press conference Wednesday. "We do know from studies overseas that actually, the virus can survive in some refrigerated environments for quite some time."

Yves Adams / Instagram

A rare yellow penguin has been photographed for what is believed to be the first time.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Crystal building in London, England is the first building in the world to be awarded an outstanding BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) rating and a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum rating. Alphotographic / Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

We spend 90% of our time in the buildings where we live and work, shop and conduct business, in the structures that keep us warm in winter and cool in summer.

But immense energy is required to source and manufacture building materials, to power construction sites, to maintain and renew the built environment. In 2019, building operations and construction activities together accounted for 38% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, the highest level ever recorded.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Houses and wooden debris are shown in flood waters from Hurricane Katrina Sept. 11, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jerry Grayson / Helifilms Australia PTY Ltd / Getty Images

By Eric Tate and Christopher Emrich

Disasters stemming from hazards like floods, wildfires, and disease often garner attention because of their extreme conditions and heavy societal impacts. Although the nature of the damage may vary, major disasters are alike in that socially vulnerable populations often experience the worst repercussions. For example, we saw this following Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey, each of which generated widespread physical damage and outsized impacts to low-income and minority survivors.

Read More Show Less
A gray wolf is seen howling outside in winter. Wolfgang Kaehler / Contributor / Getty Images

Wisconsin will end its controversial wolf hunt early after hunters and trappers killed almost 70 percent of the state's quota in the hunt's first 48 hours.

Read More Show Less
Tom Vilsack speaks on December 11, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware after being nominated to be Agriculture Secretary by U.S. President Joe Biden. Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday was the lone progressive to vote against Tom Vilsack reprising his role as secretary of agriculture, citing concerns that progressive advocacy groups have been raising since even before President Joe Biden officially nominated the former Obama administration appointee.

Read More Show Less