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Research Project: Elucidating the Factors that Determine the Ecology of Human Pathogens in Foods

Location: Produce Safety and Microbiology Research

Title: A review on the epidemic investigation on cold-chain food mediated SARS-CoV-2 transmission and food safety consideration during COVID-19 pandemic

Author
item LU, LI-CHE - Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital
item Quintela, Irwin
item LIN, CHENG-HAN - National Yang-Ming University
item LIN, TZU-CHING - Taipei Medical University
item LIN, CHAO-HSU - National Yang-Ming University
item Wu, Vivian
item LIN, CHIH-SHENG - National Yang-Ming University

Submitted to: Journal of Food Safety
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/13/2021
Publication Date: 10/3/2021
Citation: Lu, L., Quintela, I.A., Lin, C., Lin, T., Lin, C., Wu, V.C., Lin, C. 2021. A review on the epidemic investigation on cold-chain food mediated SARS-CoV-2 transmission and food safety consideration during COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Food Safety. Article e12932. http://doi.org/10.1111/jfs.12932.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jfs.12932

Interpretive Summary: Although current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 does not cause foodborne illness, the virus has caused significant disruptions to the global food supply chain. Issues such as food security and food sustainability have been brought to the forefront in this pandemic, as well as the health of food workers from the farm through to retail and food service. The current survey and scientific studies show that the risk of infection by SARS-CoV-2 from cold-chain food, food products, and food packaging remains very low. However, the food cold chain promotes contamination as studies have revealed that SARS-CoV-2 remained highly stable under refrigerated (4 °C) and even at freezing conditions (-10 to -80°C). Since one of the modes of SARS-CoV-2 transmission appears to be touching contaminated surfaces, it is very important to properly clean and sanitize food contact surfaces. Understanding food safety hazard risks is essential to avoid potential negative health impacts and SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the food supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Technical Abstract: COVID-19 has brought speculations on possible transmission routes of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causal agent of the pandemic. The main route of virus transmission is reported to be person-to-person by respiratory droplets; however, concerns have been raised on the possible transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans via food and packaging and its potential effects on food safety. This review discusses food safety status in the COVID-19 pandemic and reveals its possible transmission in cold-chain food. The first outbreak of COVID-19 in late 2019 was associated with a seafood market in Wuhan, China, while the second outbreak of COVID-19 in June 2020 was also associated with a seafood market in Beijing, China. As of 2020, several frozen seafood products contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 have been reported in China. According to the current survey and scientific studies, the risk of infection by SARS-CoV-2 from cold-chain food, food products, and food packaging is thought to be very low. However, the food cold chain promotes contamination as studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 remained highly stable under refrigerated (4 °C) and even at freezing conditions (-10 to -80°C). Since one of the modes of SARS-CoV-2 transmission appears to be touching contaminated surfaces, it is very important to properly clean and sanitize food contact surfaces. Understanding food safety hazard risks is essential to avoid potential negative health impacts and SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the food supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic.