October 20, 2020

China Points to Shrimp as Virus Carrier After Salmon Debacle

China said samples of imported shrimp tested positive for the coronavirus, raising questions again over whether the pathogen can spread through food or frozen products.

The virus tested positive on both the inside and outside of the shrimp packaging, said China’s General Administration of Customs. The samples were from three Ecuadorian plants, and imports from those processors will be halted, it said. A leading Ecuadorian shrimp exporter disputed the findings.

“The test result doesn’t mean the virus is contagious, but reflects the loopholes in companies’ food safety regulations,” said Bi Kexin, director of the food import and export safety bureau in the customs department. “Customs will further strengthen control of the origins of imported cold-chain food.”

China last month pointed to imported salmon as a possible culprit for Beijing’s fresh Covid-19 outbreak, sparking a boycott of the fish as supermarkets took the produce off their shelves. China also began mass testing of cold food imports at ports, and blocked shipments from meat plants abroad that reported infections among workers.

Evidence suggests that it’s extremely unlikely for the virus to be transmitted through food, said Gorjan Nikolik, associate director of seafood at Rabobank.

“It’s a typical food scare” he said. “I expect them to be very short-lived.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a fresh statement on the matter, saying there’s no evidence that Covid-19 is transmitted through food or food packaging.

 

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