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Salmon Fish And Other Frozen Foods May Carry The Novel Coronavirus, Study

Since its advent in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused 928,830 deaths, affecting over 29,206,669 people. COVID-19 can affect anyone, causing symptoms ranging from mild to very severe, where some people may be more likely to have severe illness than others because they have characteristics or medical conditions that increase their risk [1].

People of any age with certain underlying medical conditions such as cancer, COPD, chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity etc. are at increased risk [2]. The best way to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is to limit your interactions with other people as much as possible and taking the necessary precautions such as using a mask, social distancing and sanitising to prevent getting COVID-19 when you do interact with others [3].

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In a recent study, researchers at the South China Agricultural University and Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Guangzhou found the COVID-19 virus can survive for eight days at 4 degrees Celsius [4].


What Does The Study Say?

Several studies were being conducted to understand the possibility of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreading through food [5][6]. Chinese authorities have been investigating imported meat, packaging and containers as a potential source of Covid-19 infection since June. They have found that packaged food had traces of the virus, both on the packaging and food [7].

The study was done on imported foods, such as salmon from Norway and chicken wings from Brazil. It was revealed that the traces of the virus lingering on salmon could not only be detected but also may remain infectious for more than a week, that is, the virus samples collected from salmon survived up to eight days [8].

Consequently, the findings suggest that the coronavirus could stay viable at low temperatures for more extended periods than was previously believed [9].

The researchers added, "SARS-CoV-2-contaminated fish from one country can be easily transported to another country within one week, thus serving as one of the sources for international transmission" [10].


WHO Had Previously Rebutted COVID-19-Food Claim

While the current study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed and published, stated that the COVID-19 virus could survive for eight days in salmon, several studies, as well as, the WHO had previously stated that there is no cause for concern around coronavirus transmission through food [11].

"There is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Coronaviruses cannot multiply in food; they need an animal or human host to multiply," stated WHO in June.


So, Can I Really Get The COVID-19 Virus From Food?

As of now, researchers are not entirely sure. The fact that the Covid-19 virus develops from a specific animal has been debunked [12]. With the news of the salmon containing the virus, there has been criticism of the unsanitary practices and low temperatures in the markets.

However, researchers say that China will begin testing foods particular produce, seafood and meat for COVID-19. "We continue to review all available science as we assess the virus that causes COVID-19. Following standard hygiene practices, safe food handling, and using cooking practices that protect us from foodborne illness remain important."

As studies point out, viruses can survive in frozen environments. This theory has prompted the need to examine whether the Covid-19 virus can indeed affect an individual who comes in contact with the virus exposed food item [13]. While it is low-risk, there are chances that the virus could get onto someone's hands and then into their nose or mouth, and still survive.

Important points from the article:

  • The CDC, FDA and WHO had previously stated that foodborne transmission of coronavirus is nonexistent in April.
  • SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was found in salmon samples and could survive for eight days at 4 degrees Celsius.
  • Chinese citizens are avoiding salmon in fear of Covid-19, causing an economic dip in salmon sales.
  • The Covid-19 virus does not come or develop from a particular animal has been debunked.
  • Unsanitary practices and low temperatures in the markets are being questioned.
  • China has begun testing foods mainly produce, seafood and meat for Covid-19.
  • It is important to follow standard hygiene practices, safe food handling, and using cooking practices that protect us from foodborne illnesses in the time of Covid-19.

On A Final Note…

The CDC, FDA and WHO had previously stated that foodborne transmission of coronavirus is virtually nonexistent. While this study has proven that the virus can be found in frozen foods such as salmon and other meat products, there is an excessive need to carry out more studies on the subject to gather a clearer understanding of the dangers.

Read more about: covid 19 salmon coronavirus
Story first published: Monday, September 14, 2020, 21:51 [IST]