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Health D-G: No Evidence Covid-19 Infections Can Spread From Food

Health D-G: No Evidence Covid-19 Infections Can Spread From Food

Tasneem Nazari

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Have you been mildly suspicious of your food since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic? Considering the fact that the coronavirus is pretty contagious, whether or not we can contract the disease from food products carrying the virus is an obvious concern.

Thankfully, our Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah is here to set our minds at ease. During his daily Covid-19 briefing, the doctor explained that there has been no hard evidence to suggest that individuals can get infected with Covid-19 from food.

He was addressing concerns raised by the public after several wet markets across the country were closed due to a spike in Covid-19 infections in these locales. He was also asked if food purchased from supermarkets needed to be dried under the sun before being consumed.

Traders at Taman Megah SS24 Wet Market were tested for Covid-19 after the number of cases at the market spiked. (Credit: Malay Mail)

Dr Noor Hisham advised that the best practice would be to cook the food thoroughly before it is consumed to get rid of any pathogens, including the coronavirus.

He highlighted that so far, there have been no known infections in the country that arose from consuming food. However, he noted that currently, the Health Ministry has no knowledge of whether traces of the virus can be found on food.

Recently, it was reported that a local poultry farm was shut after a number of its employees tested positive for Covid-19.

The public became concerned about the safety of their food after several wet markets and a poultry farm was closed due to a spike in Covid-19 cases.

On this, Dr Noor Hisham said that we must wait for a report from the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) to know if the virus is associated with chickens.

What is important is that we cook the food at a high temperature thereby killing the virus.

Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah via Malay Mail

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated in an advisory that experiences from previous outbreaks involving coronaviruses, such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), shows that there were no infections transmitted through food consumption.

According to WHO, cooking your food thoroughly, at a temperature of at least 70°C can destroy the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

However, the public health governing body acknowledged that while coronaviruses appear to be stable at low and freezing temperatures for a certain period of time, good food hygiene and safety practices can easily prevent any possible transmission.

Specifically, coronaviruses are thermolabile, which means that they are susceptible to normal cooking temperatures of 70°C. Therefore, as a general rule, the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided.

WHO via who.int

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