Evaluating the risks of foodborne coronavirus transmission

Summary

The food industry is faced with several challenges on controlling the spread of SARS-CoV2 during the ongoing pandemic. The lack of knowledge about the transmission of the virus via food routes has generated the need to provide information that can help the food industry in managing the risks posed by coronaviruses.

Situation

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has put significant burden on the food industry. Several COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred in meat and poultry processing operations, requiring the industry to re-evaluate the personnel safety programs. The SARS-CoV2 virus has led to significant number of illnesses, deaths and potentially long-term sequelae for the affected. The pandemic is disrupting US food distribution and marketing, reducing demand for key agricultural commodities, and producing severe financial hardships for food producers. While the SARS-CoV-2 virus spread is mainly from person to person via respiratory droplets, the lack of understanding about the survival of the virus in the air and its ability to infect subsequently have raised concerns. COVID-19 outbreaks in meat and other food processing plants have raised concerns for potential foodborne spread. Now more than ever, there is a need for timely, trustworthy information and resources.

Response

In response to the challenges faced by the food industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, publications with the goal of educating stakeholders about the risks associated with the SARS-CoV2 virus and its management have been published. Additionally, we collaborated with experts in the field from Agri-food Canada, USDA-ARS, and North Carolina State University and developed educational materials in the form of infosheets, adaptations of CDC guidelines, and peer-reviewed publications as resources for the food industry. o Thippareddi, H., Balamurugan, S., Patel, J., Singh, M. and Brassard, J., 2020. Coronaviruses–Potential human threat from foodborne transmission? LWT, p.110147. o Managing covid-19 risks for poultry processing plants personnel https://extension.uga.edu/content/dam/extension/topic-areas/timely-topics/emergencies-and-disasters/UGA_poultry%20processing%20plants_COVID-19_Flyer_062920.pdf These publications are a useful resource for understanding and managing the risks associated with coronaviruses to ensure safety of foods. We have further collaborated with Kansas State University to secure USDA-NIFA funding to translate science-based information on the risks of coronaviruses for the food industry.

Impact

The resources developed in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be useful tools for the food industry to manage the risks of its’ transmission and enhancing food safety.

State Issue

Food Safety and Quality

Details

  • Year: 2020
  • Geographic Scope: International
  • County: Clarke
  • Location: College Station, Athens
  • Program Areas:
    • Agriculture & Natural Resources

Author

    Singh, Manpreet

Collaborator(s)

CAES Collaborator(s)

  • Thippareddi, Harshavardha
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Research Impact