Despite recent unspecific reports of a COVID-19 detection related to a shipment of chicken wings imported into China from Brazil, there is no evidence that any animal food products including chicken and other poultry spread the virus, the International Poultry Council (IPC) said in a statement issued this week.
Other food safety and health organizations, including the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) support this position.
The IPC, whose members represent more than 95 percent of global poultry trade and 90 percent of production, cited science and evidence to support its position that the virus is not transmitted in either fresh or frozen meat and that consumers should feel confident buying and eating poultry. There has not been a case of transmission of COVID-19 recorded via food packaging or food itself from the U.S. or any other country.
USAPEEC President Jim Sumner said, “There is no justification for any country to ban poultry imports based on scientifically unfounded fears prompted by unsubstantiated reports in media. Such action would only be a disadvantage to its own consumer population.”
The detection reported last week was made by the Shenzhen municipality, not the General Administration of Customs China (GACC), which has been conducting all the COVID-19 tests on products at customs clearance. Despite the fact that this report has not been confirmed by GACC, other countries might be considering banning imports based on that report.
In its statement, the IPC notes that according to science, the virus is a respiratory illness and its main route of transmission is person-to-person via respiratory droplets. It cannot multiply in food and it does not affect poultry.
Further, the detection of genetic material belonging to the COVID-19 virus is not an index of infectivity of the package or product sampled, according to the IPC. Instead, it only indicates that the tested surface has come into contact with viral material. That material may not be alive, viable, and infectious.
Inactive fragments of the virus can remain on surfaces, but they cannot transmit COVID-19. Because most tests can’t differentiate between inactive non-infectious virus fragments and viable virus, caution is necessary when interpreting test results, the IPC pointed out in its statement.
Another key point stressed by the IPC in its statement is that the poultry industry is fully committed to ensuring the highest level of safety for consumers and for its workers.
“The poultry industry is fully committed to ensuring the highest level of safety at each step from the farm to the consumer, while providing for the safety of its workers, and for the continuous supply to consumers globally of high-quality protein,” the IPC stated.
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