Press conference on forestalling inbound transmissions, strengthening supervision over imported cold-chain food

The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council held a press conference on July 10, 2020 in Beijing to brief the media on measures to forestall inbound COVID-19 transmissions and strengthen supervision over imported cold-chain food. July 14, 2020

The Kyunghyang Shinmun:

The possibility of imported salmon as a source of virus infections has caused concern after the clustered cases were discovered at the Xinfadi market. Recently, there have been clustered COVID-19 outbreaks at American and European meat companies. Is there any possibility that frozen and refrigerated seafood and meat can be a source of infections? Could you introduce the preventative measures of relevant authorities? Thank you.

Li Ning: 

Thank you for your questions. I have paid attention to a document from an American institute. This document was a preprinted version made public on July 3, which means that it has not been officially published. The document is a related study led by the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. The focus of the study is mainly to inoculate the novel coronavirus on the skin of hairless pigs to observe the stability of virus at different temperatures. The purpose of the study is to use pig skin to simulate the skin of human hands, so as to project the survival time of the virus on the skin of human hands. The study found that the virus can survive on the skin of pigs, which reminds us again that it is very important to wash our hands frequently and keep our hands clean during the epidemic prevention and control period.

Regarding the question of whether frozen aquatic products and refrigerated meat products can be a source of COVID-19 infections, I can say, based on the opinions of relevant authorities of international organizations and available evidence, they are very unlikely to be a source of infections. Authoritative organizations and institutions such as the WHO, the European Food Safety Authority, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all have clear opinions about this, and their opinions are consistent. That is: novel coronavirus transmissions mainly occur via respiratory droplets and people's close contact with other people. The possibility of infection through the digestive tract is very small. Up to now, there is no evidence of novel coronavirus transmissions through food. These opinions can be found as they are available on the website of WHO and websites of the other institutions. Until now, among more than 10 million confirmed cases diagnosed globally including more than 80,000 confirmed cases reported in our country, there is no case reported due to eating food.

Regarding the regulatory measures for cold-chain foods, China has a series of management measures and relevant standards and regulations for the production and sales of frozen food. Companies that produce and sell relevant products must comply with the regulations and implement all measures. Mr. Bi and Mr. Li introduced the regulatory measures earlier, so I will not repeat them. In addition, the National Health Commission is developing the hygienic standard for production and operation of cold-chain food, which will introduce specific regulations on food safety covering all aspects of the cold chain, including production, processing, sales, transportation, and storage. I believe introducing this standard will be very important for the prevention of COVID-19 and the overall improvement of the hygienic situation of the food cold chain and the prevention of diseases. Thank you.

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