China State Media Says No Proof that COVID-19 Can Spread Through Food

Last week, the Beijing government reported a new COVID-19 outbreak finding its origin in the biggest wholesale market in the capital. Soon, the virus source was said to be linked imported salmon, sparking fear across the country, leading to an immediate halt of imported fishery products. But yesterday, after a large-scale investigation, the central government concluded that there is yet no proof that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food. 

On June 11th, after 57 consecutive days of no new local confirmed cases, a new epidemic outbreak was confirmed in the capital of China. The outbreak was quickly linked to Beijing’s biggest wholesale market, responsible for 80% of Beijing’s fresh produce, fish, and meat distribution: Xinfadi. 

On the following days, experts from the Chinese Center for Disease Control not only tested over 700 thousand people (in)directed related to the market, they also rolled out an extensive investigation to trace the origin of the virus.

 In the first, and second phases they collected more than 200 samples at the Xinfadi market and more than 200 in the surrounding area. For the third phase, they took an unspecified number of samples at several “water system facilities” such as fish breeding and preservation waters, and canals and groundwater. In addition, air samples have also been collected to determine the risk of aerosol transmission. 

Early reports stated that traces of the virus had been found on a cutting board used for imported salmon, leading to panic on the market. Salmon and other fishery products were taken out of the supermarkets, and imports were called to a halt. 

Yesterday, however, the National Health Commission came out with a statement saying that there was found no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through food products, including seafood. Research further showed that the novel coronavirus mainly transmits through respiratory droplets and close contact. Aerosol transmission — tiny droplets carrying the virus that mix with the air and are inhaled — is possible if one is exposed to a highly concentrated mixture in an enclosed area for an extended period. Other transmission routes are yet to be confirmed. 

The commission also suggested using separate chopping boards for raw ingredients and cooked foods, avoid eating sashimi and salad, and peel fruits before eating. Also, it is advised to heat packaged, cook foods before eating, refrain from storing large bulks of vegetables during summer.

The article is an adaption of yesterday’s article in the China Daily (ENG), and a publication from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CH).