Coronavirus remains stable on surfaces, new research
Scientist have found the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces.
According to a new study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine, SARS-CoV-2 was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
What does this mean for food manufacturing facilities?
There is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging but facilities are required to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill regardless of the type of virus or bacteria. For example, facilities are required to maintain clean and sanitised facilities and food contact surfaces.
The advice from the Australian Government for food businesses is to continue to practise good hygiene as required in the food safety standards, including:
- cleaning and sanitising, particularly all food contact surfaces
- thorough and frequent handwashing
- taking all practicable measures to prevent food contamination by food handlers.
Further detailed advice is available on your local government health site, such as in the Victorian Health site here.
What if a worker in my food processing facility has tested positive for COVID-19?
According to the US FDA, the primary responsibility in this instance is to take appropriate actions to protect other workers and people who might have come in contact with the ill employee, but facilities should re-double their cleaning and sanitation efforts to control any risks that might be associated with workers who are ill regardless of the type of virus or bacteria. For example, facilities are required to maintain clean and sanitised facilities and food contact surfaces.
Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal (GI) viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission, according to the US FDA.
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