Spanish study reveals the "total absence" of Coronavirus in supermarket food packaging

Going to the supermarket has become a cause of great concern for many people who fear getting infected. First, by going to the establishment and exposing yourself in a closed place with hundreds of people who visit it daily. And second, for thinking that food could be contaminated by the virus. Well, at least in the second it seems that you can be somewhat calmer. The Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) has not detected coronavirus in the packaging of food and hygiene products for sale on the supermarket shelves, but the "total absence" of remains of the virus in them.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has ruled out that food is a vehicle for the transmission of this type of virus. In reality, it is an emerging risk of very recent appearance and there are no studies yet, but to date no contagion by this route is known, since the entry route of the virus is by aspiration and not by ingestion. Normal digestive conditions, such as acidity of the stomach or bile salts, would in principle be sufficient to inactivate the virus.

According to a recent compilation of studies by the Food Safety Science & Research Center in New Zealand, there are studies done with MERS.CoV (Coronavirus that caused an outbreak in the Middle East in 2012) that show the survival of the virus up to 72 hours in raw milk (pasteurization inactivates the virus), and with another coronavirus of up to 2 days in lettuce.

On the other hand, the coronavirus cannot grow in food, it needs a host to grow (person or animal) and the usual techniques of cooking it inactivate the virus.

In addition, a study carried out by the OCU has analyzed the presence of coronavirus on the surface of 66 foods and hygiene products for mass consumption, the list of which includes flours, chocolate bars, bags of potato chips, bread sticks, beer cans, apples. in bulk, toilet paper, yogurts, packaged salads, precooked tortillas, meat trays and smoked salmon, according to a statement.

The sample incorporates products that have experienced an increase in demand during confinement and each one was placed in an individual bag to avoid possible cross contamination after being purchased during the last week of April in ten establishments in Alcampo, Carrefour, Condis, Dia, Eroski, Lidl, Mercadona and Supercor from Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Vitoria and La Coruña.

The results of the analysis were obtained by an independent laboratory using PCR genetic tests after passing a swab across the entire surface of the container to search for a genome sequence that codes for a virus coat protein. There was a "total absence" of the virus.

According to the consumer organization, although the study is only "a photo" that shows "that it is not so easy for the virus to end up on the surface of a container", it is "very likely" that the hygiene measures adopted by the supermarkets themselves , as the periodic cleaning of the surfaces and the use of gloves and masks “have helped to reduce this risk”.

Once in the supermarket, he recalled the importance of “respecting” the rules of the establishment, using gloves and a mask, and keeping safety distances with the staff and the rest of the buyers.

Along with this, he stressed the importance of avoiding touching the nose, mouth, or rubbing the eyes, trying to "not touch" the products, touching the "black spots" "as little as possible" - high contact surfaces such as refrigerator doors, car handles or elevator buttons - and try to pay by card.

When he left the establishment, he urged him to take off his gloves and leave them in the corresponding containers and, once at home, he had to wash his hands when he entered, remove the outer packaging of the products and dispose of it, writing down the date of consumption or the batch as well. how to maintain the usual hygienic measures when handling food.

In the event that the family unit has people at risk, it was recommended to also clean the glass, plastic or can containers with soap and water, avoiding the use of disinfectants in those containers that could be porous, to avoid health risks.

According to the organization, supermarkets "have been able to adapt by taking effective measures" to avoid contagion between customers. "Following all the precautionary measures, there is no reason to be afraid of going to the supermarket," he pointed out, while specifying that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) "has ruled out" that food is a "transmission vehicle" of this type of virus.

SimFRUIT according to newspaper El Mundo / EFE

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