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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Meat Safety and Quality » Research » Research Project #438718

Research Project: SARS-CoV-2 Impact on Meat Production: A Farm to Plate Approach

Location: Meat Safety and Quality

Project Number: 3040-42000-020-005-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2020
End Date: Jul 31, 2023

1. Investigate SARS-CoV-2 impact on beef cattle; 2. Investigate SARS-CoV-2 impact on beef cattle processing and packing (specific objective of the ARS investigators); 3. Investigate SARS-CoV-2 impact on meat transport and retail conditions; 4. Establish mathematical model to predict the potential risk of food contamination with SARS-CoV-2 based on the experimental observations in Objectives 1,2 and 3.

This project will investigate the potential transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to beef cattle and determine susceptibility of beef cattle to the virus. Furthermore, we will perform studies to determine the survival of SARS-CoV-2 in the various zones within the meat processing plants and packaging facilities, and measure the transfer rate of SARS-CoV-2 from the different zones to meat processing surface and meat products. In particular, the impact of different environmental microbial communities (including multi-species biofilms) and their stress tolerance on viral particle stability and contagiousness by either protecting or degrading the particles will be investigated. The effectiveness of the different disinfection programs regularly used in the processing plants and packing facilities on SARS-CoV-2 will be evaluated as well. More importantly, novel sanitizer products designed to be deployed as foam spray to cover contact surface or fog to fill large space for deep cleaning large scaled industrial environment will be assessed for their effectiveness in avoiding virus aerosolization during sanitization as well as destroying airborne particles that might reach air handling systems. In addition, the survival of SARS-CoV-2 on meat and meat packaging during transportation and in retail market settings will be tested. Based on the above observations, a mathematical model will be established to predict: 1. the probability of exposure of SARS-CoV-2 from human to beef cattle leading to community spread within the feedlot; 2. the probability of exposure of SARS-CoV-2 to consumers (high and low risk population) through contaminated meat/ meat packaging and retail.