On August 13, 2020, Yuliya Talmazan of NBC News reported several cases of coronavirus detected on frozen food and food packaging in China. During routine controls, the virus was measured on the packaging of frozen seafood in the cities of Wuhu and Yantai. In Shenzen, the coronavirus was also present on a surface sample of frozen chicken wings. As a result, the Shenzhen Municipal Health Commission launched a large-scale testing campaign that found no new coronavirus infections. Nevertheless, officials recommended to be cautious in buying imported frozen meat and aquatic products.
On the same day, the Scientist published a news and opinion article in which experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consider the risks of disease transmission via food and food packaging to be very low. In addition, the article cites Emanuel Goldman, the author of a recent commentary on SARS-CoV-2 transmission via surfaces published in The Lancet, who said that “the chance of transmission through inanimate surfaces is very small, and only in instances where an infected person coughs or sneezes on the surface, and someone else touches that surface soon after.”
More information related to the COVID-19 pandemic and packaging is available on the Food Packaging Forum’s resources page.
Yuliya Talmazan (August 13, 2020). “Coronavirus found on frozen food packaging in Chinese cities.” NBC news
Amanda Heidt (August 13, 2020). “Coronavirus Found on Food Packaging, but Likely of Little Concern.” The Scientist
Stephanie Nebehay (August 13, 2020). “People should not fear spread of COVID-19 in food, packaging – WHO.” swissinfo.ch
Christian Shepherd & Qianer Liu (August 17, 2020). “Guangzhou bans frozen meat imports over virus fears.” The Financial Times
Emanual Goldman (July 3, 2020). “Exaggerated risk of transmission of COVID-19 by fomites.” The Lancet (pdf)