WHO, FAO, FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius, the US CDC, the EU CDC, and other international organizations have made it clear that SARS-Cov-2 is not a foodborne disease. “There is no evidence to date of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses being transmitted via food or food packaging…. It is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging” (www.fao.org).
However, there is evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was transferred on food packaging across international borders. Chinese authorities in 2020 inspected and sampled millions of cold-chain foods and in a few cases blocked the import of meat or fish because testing revealed the presence of the virus’ genetic material. In October, the Chinese CDC announced that a “living coronavirus” was isolated in Qingdao from a package of imported frozen cod. Thus, workers in the cold-chain sector are in some cases potentially at risk of coming into contact with COVID-19 – not from a colleague, but from the products they handle.
Meanwhile, several studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 can “survive” on packaging for days, depending on the type of material and the ambient conditions. Even if COVID-19 is not a foodborne illness and there is no risk of infection from eating food, shouldn’t we consider enhancing frozen food handling practices when cold chain workers are at risk even when their co-workers are COVID-19 negative?
Further, how should we address the possibility that positive COVID-19 tests may be false positives or that negative tests may be false negatives?
What can the meat and seafood industries do to protect their workers and to prevent their products from being rejected because of the presence of trace amounts of viral genetic material on packaging surfaces?
To answer such questions and more, Affidia will host this free, virtual event on 5 February, 2021. The event will take place from 12:00 - 13:00 CET (Rome, Berlin time) .
One week before the event, participants may access the speakers’ presentations and send questions and comments in advance. Affidia will select the most frequently asked and relevant questions to be addressed during the panel discussion.
The event will remain available on demand at affidiajournal.com.
Roland E. Poms, PhD
Dr. Roland E. Poms is a Professor HC and faculty member of Food Safety Analytics at BOKU University (Vienna, AT). Since 2016 he has consulted for the FAO (Rome, Italy). His general expertise is development, validation, and application of analytical methods for food safety and quality assessment. He is involved in working groups of various international organizations.
François Bourdichon, PhD
Dr. François Bourdichon is the principal consultant for Food Safety, Microbiology and Hygiene and has spent 15 years working for major dairy and confectionary food business companies. Since 2010, he has been a French delegate at the International Dairy Federation (IDF) for three standing committees (SCMH, SCHMM, SCAMDM). He also represents IDF at Codex Alimentarius working groups and ISO Technical meetings.
Lucia Anelich, PhD
Dr. Lucia Anelich is a food safety expert, consultant, and educator in food safety, food microbiology, and food safety management systems. She was President of the South African Association for Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST), Chair of the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) Food Hygiene Committee, and an expert on the African Union’s Food Hygiene Committee. She is an adjunct Professor at Central University of Technology (South Africa), Officer of the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF), and fellow of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology (IAFoST).
Sun Rubao, PhD
Senior food safety consultant for Foodmate
Deputy Secretary of the Beijing Food and Drug Safety Enterprise Alliance
Dr. Sun Rubao is responsible for consulting on food safety laws, regulations, and standards, and for liaising with government authorities in related fields. Dr. Sun Rubao has rich experience in food safety risk assessment and food disease research. Before joining Foodmate and the Alliance, he worked at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences (The Chinese People's Liberation Army Center for Disease Control and Prevention) for nearly 15 years.
Li Yu, PhD
Chief Engineer of the China Food Industry Association
Chairman of the Working Committee on Industry Development and Standards and Regulations
Member of the National Food Safety Standards Review Committee
Dr. Li Yu is responsible for coordinating industry-related scientific and regulatory issues, food safety and quality management discussions, food industry standardization activities, and liaising with government authorities in related areas of work.
Cesare Varallo is a food lawyer and global advisor on food safety, food labelling, and food regulatory issues. In July 2013, he founded foodlawlatest.com and started consulting independently. He is an expert in local (IT, EU, US) and international food law, food fraud prevention and mitigation, food recall/withdrawal assistance, and crisis management.
Nicola Bortoletto, PhD
Sales specialist for Bio-Rad Life Science, marketing manager at Generon, key account manager for Food and Pharma at Applied Biosystems (now Thermo-Fisher). He is an expert in food testing market, molecular biology, animal diagnostic market, pharmaceutical market and food science.