- The coronavirus in China
- Concerns over frozen food
- Authorities take action
The coronavirus in China
Recently, there has been widespread concern from Chinese shoppers over the potential spread of the novel coronavirus through imported frozen food and food packaging. The virus had originated in China and hit the country first. The widespread transmission of the disease in China shut down. Chinese residents, especially in Wuhan, where the virus was found, experienced the strictest shelter-in-place and contact tracing procedures.
Aside from a few exceptions, the world has relatively brought the pandemic under control. For those countries who have already relatively contained their cases, the concentration has been keeping local outbreaks from happening and staying careful for a potential second wave.
Concerns over frozen food
The coronavirus had been detected on the surface of a chopping board that may have been used to cut salmon at Beijing’s Xinfadi wholesale market earlier in June. Shoppers’ concerns have been exacerbated after the discovery of the virus in frozen chicken wings from Brazil and shrimp from Ecuador recently. Since then, Chinese authorities have found more than 10 cases of the virus benign found in frozen packaging or foods in several cities.
Since the recent discoveries, shoppers have lost a lot of trust for imported foods and prefer to purchase food from more local markets. A Shanghai resident said, “I won’t choose imported products, because right now the epidemic situation abroad is more serious than in China.” The concerns have also caused Chinese authorities to increase checks on internationally imported foods to restore customer confidence. These checks include inspection requirements on meat and seafood imports. A Shanghai chef of high-end foods explaining the delays of food to restaurants said, “It has been more difficult, I mean especially seafood we are talking about, since the incidents with shrimps and incidents with salmon.”
Authorities take action
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian stated that authorities were meeting with foreign countries. Chinese authorities have placed a temporary ban on frozen food from 23 companies from different countries, including the US, UK, Brazil, and Germany. Additionally, the health authorities have cautioned consumers to be careful with the food they buy and announced plans for closed-loop management systems for the frozen food supply chain. Thus far, all those who came into contact with the frozen foods have been tested and all these tests have resulted in negative results as authorities continue to test those in communities connected to the location of the frozen foods.
The Brazilian manufacturers of the chicken wings that tested positive for the virus, Aurora, claimed to have taken all safety precautions to prevent the virus from reaching the frozen products. They have reached out to Chinese authorities to clarify the situation.
Although viruses can survive up to 2 years at temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius, the World Health Organisation has stated that it is “highly unlikely that people can contract Covid from food or food packaging.” The US Food and Drug Administration also stated, “there is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging.”Despite these announcements, Chinese consumers are taking extra precautions with some restaurants even taking seafood off their menus.