Story at a glance

  • “People should not fear food, or food packaging or processing or delivery of food,” WHO officials said Thursday.
  • Health officials in China detected COVID-19 on a surface sample taken from a batch of chicken wings during screening of imported frozen food in Shenzhen’s Longgang district.
  • Officials say the individuals who might have come into contact with the products tested negative.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said there’s no evidence the coronavirus can be transmitted through food or packaging following reports a batch of chicken wings imported from Brazil tested positive for COVID-19 in China. 

“People should not fear food, or food packaging or processing or delivery of food,” WHO Health Emergencies Program Executive Director Mike Ryan said during a news briefing Thursday. 


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“There is no evidence that food or the food chain is participating in transmission of this virus. And people should feel comfortable and safe.”

Health officials in China detected COVID-19 on a surface sample taken from a batch of chicken wings during screening of imported frozen food in Shenzhen’s Longgang district. Officials say the individuals who might have come into contact with the products tested negative. 

The news of the contaminated chicken wings occurred just one day after COVID-19 was found on packaging of frozen shrimp imported from Ecuador in China’s eastern Anhui province during a routine inspection. 

“I think people are already scared enough, fearful enough, in the [COVID-19] pandemic,” Ryan said. “It’s important that we track findings like this, and it’s important that we don’t discount scientific evidence where we find it. But it’s also important that people can go about their daily lives without fear.”

While there’s no evidence the virus has infected anyone through food packaging, recent studies have shown that the coronavirus is capable of living on plastic surfaces for as long as three days. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. 

Published on Aug 13, 2020