China discovers COVID in packaged food, WHO says not to worry about it
New Delhi : China have found traces of coronavirus in cargoes of imported frozen food, local authorities said. Although the World Health Organization downplayed the risk of the virus entering the food chain.
A sample taken from the surface of frozen chicken wings imported to Shenzhen from Brazil, as well as samples of outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp sold in the northwestern city of Xian, have tested positive for the virus, local Chinese authorities said.
Shenzhen authorities identified the chicken as originating from a plant owned by Aurora, Brazil's third-largest poultry and pork exporter.
As confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise globally, the discoveries raise concerns that the coronavirus that causes the disease can spread on surfaces and enter the foodchain. A day earlier, officials started investigating whether the first COVID-19 cases in New Zealand in more than three months were imported by freight.
"People should not fear food, food packaging or delivery of food," the World Health Organization said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Agriculture Department said in a joint statement "there is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging."
Shenzhen's health authorities traced and tested everyone who might have come into contact with potentially contaminated food products, and all results were negative, the city's notice said.
"It is hard to say at which stage the frozen chicken got infected," said a China-based official at a Brazilian meat exporter.
The Shenzhen Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarters said the public needed to take precautions to reduce infection risks from imported meat and seafood.
The health commission of Shaanxi province, where Xian city is located, said authorities were testing people and the surrounding environment connected to the contaminated shrimp products, which were sold in a local market.
In addition to screening all meat and seafood containers coming into major ports in recent months, China has suspended some meat imports from various places, including Brazil, since mid-June.
The first cluster of COVID-19 cases was linked to the Huanan seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Initial studies suggested the virus originated in animal products on sale at the market.