According to all the main scientific and health authorities, food is not a source or transmission route of coronavirus disease. EFSA’s chief scientist, Marta Hugas, said: “Experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), show that transmission through food consumption did not occur. At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest that coronavirus is any different in this respect.”
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has said that while animals in China were the likely source of the initial infection, the virus is spreading from person to person – mainly via respiratory droplets that people sneeze, cough, or exhale.
Scientists and authorities across the world are monitoring the spread of the virus and there have not been any reports of transmission through food. For this reason, EFSA is not currently involved in the response to the COVID-19 outbreaks.
CORONAVIRUS AND FOOD SAFETY
Regarding food safety, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued precautionary recommendations including advice on good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as washing hands, cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods.
“All the health authorities are telling us that food cannot be a source or a means of transmission of the coronavirus. On the basis of this scientific certainty – says MEP Paolo De Castro, S&D coordinator in the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament – we must work to defend the integrity of the European market and prohibit any measure not scientifically justified that restricts the free movement of goods, and in particular of our agri-food excellences.”
“After the safety of citizens – says Mr De Castro – now more than ever we must safeguard our trade, in particular the most perishable agri-food products and food excellences, which, as Italy’s Minister of Agriculture Teresa Bellanova says, are a strategic element for the competitiveness and global positioning of Made in Italy.”