How safe is your food? Study reveals coronavirus can stay on some groceries for days

How safe is your food? Study reveals coronavirus can stay on some groceries for days

Lastly, the research revealed that coronavirus can remain on plastic containers and cartons for days.

Due to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in China, the fear of the pandemic is back. Once again, people are worried about whether they will be able to survive another deadly wave or not. Governments across the world have started to take precautionary measures to curb the spread of the infection while many of us have started practising social distancing, stocking up on sanitisers and wearing masks in public places.

In all this, we often ask ourselves if contaminated food can spread the COVID-19 infection. Even though there isn't a definite answer for this, new research suggests that the virus can linger on some foods for days and sometimes even weeks.

According to research published by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on their official website, the deadly virus can survive on some groceries and packaged food items more than others.

Virus lingered longer on food items with uneven surfaces like broccoli, peppers and raspberries. At an ambient temperature of 23°C, the virus can survive on broccoli for nearly five days. Meanwhile, on peppers, the virus can survive for about seven days if kept at a chill temperature of 6°C.

On cheese or cold meat such as cheddar cheese and sliced ham, the virus was detected even after a week when stored in a refrigerator. According to the researchers, foods high in moisture, protein and saturated fats support more prolonged virus survival. This highlights the importance of proper food handling to prevent any contamination by the virus prior to consumption.

The virus can be found for several hours on the surface of bread crusts and pastries such as croissants and pain au chocolat, however, a significant decline can be seen after 24 hours. The study noted that a coating of liquid egg wash could have an inhibitory effect on the virus since eggs contain arachidonic acid and other unsaturated fatty acids, which possess anti-viral properties.

The same study by FSA also revealed that viral infectivity declines within a few hours post-contamination on apples and olives. "We suggest that chemicals, such as flavonoids, present in the skin of apples and olives inactivate the virus," clarified authors C.A. Bryant, S.A. Wilks and C.W. Keevil, who contributed to the study.

Lastly, the research revealed that coronavirus can remain on plastic containers and cartons for days. However, they only survive on aluminium packaging like cans for a few hours.

How safe is your food? Study reveals coronavirus can stay on some groceries for days
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Titled 'Survival of SARS-CoV-2 on the surfaces of food and food packaging materials', a laboratory-based study was conducted by FSA in association with The University of Southampton by artificially contaminating infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus onto the surfaces of different food items and their packaging. The researchers measured how the amount of infectious virus present on those surfaces declined over time.

To conclude their study, the researchers said, "There is currently no documented evidence that food and food packaging materials are a significant source and/or vehicle for the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The potential implications for public health are unclear since inhalation of respiratory aerosols and droplets is considered to be the main route of SARS-CoV-2 transmission."

"It should be noted that foods and packaging considered as part of this study were artificially inoculated with SARS-CoV-2 and therefore are not a reflection of contamination levels found on these foods at retail. However, there is the possibility of transmission through contaminated food if the food is in direct contact with the mouth and mucus membranes," they added.

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