China receives shipment of coronavirus-infected shrimp
With the majority of food consumed in the Caribbean originating from other countries, new details emerging from China have been bit troublesome, to say the least.
The debate around whether COVID-19 can be transmitted or transported on food has been given new life thanks to the latest reports from China. While scientists continue to study the behaviour of the virus and the risk it poses to both ready to eat and frozen packaged foods, China has released reports that samples of imported shrimp have tested positive for COVID-19.
The virus was present on both the inside and outside of the shrimp packaging, said China’s General Administration of Customs. It originated from three Ecuadorian plants, and imports from these processors have since been halted.
China has raised alarms about coronavirus and imported foods before. It blamed Beijing’s most recent coronavirus outbreak on possible imported salmon. This resulted in supermarkets removing the fish from shelves and prompted the Chinese to begin testing cold foods and meat imports at various ports.
According to an article in Yahoo Finance, Bi Kexin, Director of the Food Import and Export Safety Bureau in the customs department said: “The test result doesn’t mean the virus is contagious but reflects the loopholes in companies’ food safety regulations. Customs will further strengthen control of the origins of imported cold-chain food.”
The article states that Chinese officials agree with global experts that imported food poses a low risk of virus transmission, which has led to some confusion as to why China continues to test and halt shipments.
The tests are “an important measure to prevent the risk of the virus being transmitted from imported cold chain food channels,” Bi said. “This is a necessary measure taken to protect the health of the people and does not interrupt normal international trade.”
Employees in some countries continue to work, despite becoming infected with the virus, raising the risk of food contamination, Bi said. Because there are epidemic clusters at some overseas facilities, China has halted meat imports from a total of 23 plants, including Brazil, the UK, the US and Germany.
China’s customs authorities tested a total of 227,934 samples and have reported that the rest of the samples were negative. The shrimp that tested positive was delivered to ports in Dalian and Xiamen and have been destroyed, according to reports.