According to an international group of scientists, it is greatly improbable that SARS-CoV-2 is a danger to food safety.

The International Commission for Microbiological Specifications of Foods (ICMSF) is a NGO and a spectator to Codex Alimentarius.  Its chairman is Martin Cole and other members Darrell W. Donahue and Lucia Anelich, and consultants Robert Buchanan and Jeffrey M. Farber.

The view point covers the coronavirus, also called SARS-CoV-2, which causes a disease known as COVID-19.  ICMSF revealed technical and scientific awareness considering it pertinent for professionals involved in the food supply chain and governments looking after the food safety.

Members of ICMSF affirm that consumption of SARS-CoV-2 will result in illness is highly improbable since there is no registered proof that food is a possible source or mode for transmission.  Experts believe that it is crucial that one differentiates a hazard from a risk, i.e., the presence of an infectious agent on food does not always lead to an infection.

World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization released COVID-19 food safety guidance in April 2020 for businesses and published one more document with suggestions beneficial for food authorities.

ICMSF experts stated that SARS-CoV-2 should not be thought of as a food safety hazard since such a hazard enters into the body via the gastrointestinal tract and can infect organs and tissues elsewhere in the body. Scientists gave the instance of the hepatitis A virus, which paves way into the bloodstream and causes foodborne disease, eventually infecting the liver.

ICMSF does not advise analysis of food by-products or food environmental areas for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  Since SARS-CoV-2 is not risky to food safety, systematic sampling and testing for the virus is of no use.  Possibilities of uncertainties and incompatibilities regarding expected outcomes of the analysis (RNA detection only), sampling ideas and further corrective measures do not seem fruitful.

No proof has been found acclaiming that food, food packaging or food handling is serving as a mode for transmission of the virus although billions of packaged meals are being handled or consumed since the outbreak of the COVID-19.

It has been declared that few reports has been published affirming detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus on food ingredients, products and packaging materials but multiplication of viruses in foods is not feasible.

In most of the cases, such reports are not reliable as to how and in what amount the virus was found, and whether the virus was potential of causing infections.  Mainly gene-based procedures are used to determine the presence of viruses which shows the presence of RNA of the virus. They reveal that a threat to human health may be present.  But, they don’t confirm the actual hazard present due to a viable virus which may be risky to human health through ingestion or food handling.  Viability of viruses present on food items decreases with time.


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