Covid - 19 outbreak in China puts frozen food under intense scrutiny

Covid - 19 outbreak in China puts frozen food under intense scrutiny

The latest Covid - 19 resurgence in China is moving imports of frozen food under intense scrutiny as authorities act on the risk that it's possible to contract the virus from food packaging.

Cities such as Zhengzhou and Haikou will tighten inspection of local food to prevent virus transmission, according to imported media reports. Frozen pork bone and beef ribs originating from the United Kingdom were seized at a Hot Pot restaurant in Nantong city as the operators couldn't provide disinfection certificates or nucleic acid test reports.

China claims the virus can persist in conditions in imported food and packaging, linking some infections from people to frozen goods and has taken drastic steps to curb the risk. Several American health authorities have downplayed the possibility of such transmission, with the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying the chance of getting Covid 19 from frozen foods is very low.

Despite this, China has been testing cold food shipments for months for virus traces; some supermarkets even have separate coolers for imported goods. It is a debate with global implications because China is one of the biggest buyers of many food products accounting for almost half of the global pork trade. Earlier this year, the mass-testing and disinfection of frozen food caused long cargo delays and severe customs clearance delays.

The latest outbreak, which was detected in late July at Nanjing airport is linked to the highly infectious delta variant and has spread to almost half of China's 32 provinces within 2 weeks. Nanjing has tested more than 13,000 cold chain food production and business units since the outbreak and investigated more than 35,000 samples, all negative for the virus.