Researchers warn of presence of Covid-19 on staple food products

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on November 23, 2020

A team of researchers at the Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and the Food Safety Research Center in Iran has carried out a study to find Covid-19 infection risk lingering over various staple food products including meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and ready-to-eat foods.

The researchers speculated that food products could be a potential carrier of SARS-CoV-2. The findings were published in the journal Food Control.

Covid-19 and food products

Earlies studies have found that the virus also impacts the gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach, small intestine, and colon. Hence, the fecal-oral route for SARS-CoV-2 transmission is possible.

The researchers believe that adding precautionary measures and preventing food contamination by infected Covid-19 people could help mitigate the virus’ spread.

Handling food products

The researchers observed viral particles in stool samples from Covid-19 patients. Hence, the fecal-oral route should also be thoroughly investigated as a potential viral mode of transmission during this pandemic.

Their study further revealed that infection can transpire in pigs and rabbits. Plus, food handlers can contaminate various food, including bread, dairy products, meat, fruits, vegetables, and even packaging materials.

Food processing

The team warned food processing companies of cross-contamination in their products by SARS-CoV-2. These products could not be processed at home, heightening the risk of infection if the food handler is infected by SARS-CoV-2.

The team explained: “Therefore, these statistics profoundly highlight the great impact of food handlers on the occurrence of food-associated outbreaks. Besides, the airborne spread of SARS-CoV-2 is also possible, particularly in indoor environments.”

The researchers wrote in their paper: “Food may act as a potential vehicle of SARS-CoV-2 due to whether carry-through or carry-over contaminations. Considering carry-over, SARS-CoV-2 spread from personnel to food products or food surfaces is feasible.”

The researchers recommended that cooking food should be done at high temperatures, which is more than 60˚C for at least 30 min.

Published on November 23, 2020

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