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China finds Covid-19 on imported meat

A Chinese city “said it has found the new coronavirus on beef and tripe, and on packaging for these products, from Brazil, New Zealand and Bolivia as China ramps up testing on frozen foods,” Reuters reported on Saturday, November 14, 2020. Read story here.

“The World Health Organization says the risk of catching COVID-19 from frozen food is low, but China has repeatedly sounded alarms after detecting the virus on imported food products,” Reuters said. If it’s low, it apparently isn’t zero.

In August 2020, Forbes reported that frozen chicken wings imported from Brazil had tested positive for Covid-19, but pointed out that “a positive test simply means that virus genetic material has been found and says nothing about the amount of virus present” and “detecting genetic material from the virus is not the same as detecting live virus. Only fragments of the virus may be present.” (Read that story here.)

So, is there any risk of food products transmitting Covid-19?

“We do know … the virus can survive in some refrigerated environments for quite some time,” New Zealand’s director general of health has said, but WHO has stated, “There is no evidence that food or the food chain is participating in transmission of this virus,” according to News.com, an Australian news source (read that story here).

Everything I’ve read about Covid-19 suggests it takes a exposure to a critical mass of virus particles for a period of time to get infected. This most readily occurs in crowds and poorly ventilated indoor environments. The point of masks and social distancing is to reduce exposure below that critical threshold, should you come in contact with someone carrying the virus. So, they’re telling us not to worry about food or food packaging. But they seem to be finding these little bugs nearly everywhere.

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