The worldwide unfolding of COVID-19 has come with many questions, and currently the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that, thankfully, right now there is no evidence that food is a transmission vector. So that makes it all the more troubling that the municipal government of Shenzen, China has reported a shipment of frozen chicken wings from Brazil has tested positive for the virus.
The story, as reported by CNN, is troubling both because it seemingly contradicts statements from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) and because it’s not the first time China has reported finding food infected with COVID-19. Just this week China also reported finding COVID-19 on shrimp imported from Ecuador, and Chinese state media also reports that since July there have been a total of seven cases where the virus was found on the packaging of seafood that had been imported into the country from overseas.
There are, of course, many questions about what this means. China’s statement (as translated by Google Translate) says the virus was found on “a surface sample,” which seems to suggest that it was on the food itself and not the packaging. The statement does not specify, though. Additionally, given that this news and other similar reports were released through state-sponsored media, and that the reports consistently stated the virus was found on foods imported from other countries, it’s reasonable to wonder if the news itself is politically motivated and designed to impact trade, or to make Chinese citizens question the safety of food products imported from other countries.
CDC and WHO guidelines, while vague, clearly state that food is unlikely to be a transmission vector, so for now we probably don’t need to worry about this. It’s certainly not good news, though, and, COVID-flavored wings are probably not the snack you’re looking for.