SARS-CoV-2 Remains Infectious on Refrigerated Deli Food, Meats, and Fresh Produce for up to 21 Days

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2022-01-21

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MDPI

Abstract

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been detected on foods and food packaging and the virus can infect oral cavity and intestinal cells, suggesting that infection could potentially occur following ingestion of virus-contaminated foods. To determine the relative risk of infection from different types of foods, we assessed survival of SARS-CoV-2 on refrigerated ready-to-eat deli items, fresh produce, and meats (including seafood). Deli items and meats with high protein, fat, and moisture maintained infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 for up to 21 days. However, processed meat, such as salami, and some fresh produce exhibited antiviral effects. SARS-CoV-2 also remained infectious in ground beef cooked rare or medium, but not well-done. Although infectious SARS-CoV-2 was inactivated on the foods over time, viral RNA was not degraded in similar trends, regardless of food type; thus, PCR-based assays for detection of pathogens on foods only indicate the presence of viral RNA, but do not correlate with presence or quantity of infectious virus. The survival and high recovery of SARS-CoV-2 on certain foods support the possibility that food contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 could potentially be a source of infection, highlighting the importance of proper food handling and cooking to inactivate any contaminating virus prior to consumption.

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Citation

Jia, M.; Taylor, T.M.; Senger, S.M.; Ovissipour, R.; Bertke, A.S. SARS-CoV-2 Remains Infectious on Refrigerated Deli Food, Meats, and Fresh Produce for up to 21 Days. Foods 2022, 11, 286.