A sample of frozen chicken wings transported from Brazil to China tested positive for COVID-19, Chinese officials announced Thursday.
But there is no evidence that shows the coronavirus can be transmitted by eating or handling food, according to health experts.
Health officials in the Shenzhen Longgang District inspected imported frozen food Wednesday when a surface sample of frozen chicken wings tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a statement released by the Shenzhen Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarters Office.
The agency then tested other products and people who may have been in contact with the chicken wings. All tests came back negative, the statement said. While many took to Twitter to express their disappointment, current evidence shows that coronaviruses, like COVID-19, are mainly spread through person-to-person contact, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There is no evidence to suggest that handling food or consuming food is associated with COVID-19,” the CDC says.
However, it is possible to catch the virus by touching an infected surface or object, including food or food packaging, the CDC says. But the risk is very low.
According to the CDC, there have been no confirmed cases in which a person became infected from touching food, food packaging or shopping bags. Guidelines from the World Health Organization also say that food transmission is especially unlikely. “Coronaviruses cannot multiply in food; they need an animal or human host to multiply,” the WHO says.
CNN reported that the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein said: “It is not yet clear when the packaging was contaminated, and whether it occurred during the export transportation process.”
The Brazilian agriculture ministry said Chinese officials did not notify them of the incident, CNN reported. Brazil has the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. It has over 3 million confirmed cases and more than 104,000 deaths.