Two Chinese cities have flagged traces of the coronavirus in imported frozen food, Reuters reported, citing local authorities on Thursday. However, the World Health Organization has dismissed the possibility of the virus making an entry into the food chain.
A sample from frozen chicken wings that were imported from Brazil tested positive in south China’s Shenzhen city on Wednesday, the municipal authorities said in a statement, according to CNN. However, officials did not disclose the name of the brand. In another case, samples of external packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp being sold in the city of Xian also tested positive for the virus.
Shenzhen’s health officials have identified those who came in contact with the product and conducted tests that came back negative. All the other products in the stock were sealed off and have tested negative for the virus. Authorities then proceeded to identify related items from the same brand that had already been sold.
The Brazilian Association of Animal Protein released a statement saying it was scrutinising the episode, but pointed out that “there is no scientific evidence that meat transmits the virus”. “It is not yet clear when the packaging was contaminated, and whether it occurred during the export transportation process,” the association said.
The country’s agriculture ministry said China had not officially notified them about the incident.
This sparks new concerns over whether the virus can spread through surfaces and frozen food items. On Wednesday, authorities began investigations into whether the first Covid-19 case in New Zealand in over three months originated from international freight, according to New Zealand Herald.
In July, China had decided to stop imports from three Ecuadorian shrimp producers after inspections showed contamination in shipments, reported Xinhua. However, the ban was temporary. China had then intensified its testing on imported food items in the cold chain.
The WHO’s head of emergencies Mike Ryan said that people should not be worried about the spread of infections through packaged food. “People should not fear food, food packaging or delivery of food,” he said during a briefing, Reuters reported. The United States Food and Drug Administration and the country’s agriculture department also released a joint statement saying that there was no proof that Covid-19 may be contracted through food or from food packaging.
The coronavirus has infected more than 2.07 crore people across the world, according to the Johns Hopkins University. The worldwide toll has risen to 7,52,893. More than 1.29 crore people have recovered.