FSA publishes insights into coronavirus on packaging and foods

UK – The Food Standards Agency (FSA), a non-ministerial department of the UK Government, has published research on the survival of coronavirus (Covid-19) on food packaging and foods.

The research, conducted by the University of Southampton, was commissioned by the FSA following the publication of its risk assessment in 2020 which concluded it was very unlikely that humans could catch the virus from food.

In the study, researchers deliberately added the Covid-19 virus to most types of food packaging, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET) trays and bottles, aluminum cans and composite drinks cartons.

The FSA said these materials were chosen as they are widely used and consumption from them may involve direct mouth contact with the packaging.

The study’s results show that the virus’s survival varied depending on the foods and food packaging examined.

All packaging materials examined saw a ‘significant drop’ in virus contamination in the first 24 hours, in all relative humidity conditions and at both 6°C and 21°C.

Researchers also studied the virus survival on the surface of foods such as fruits and vegetables, cheese, meats, bread and pastries.

The virus was found to survive for several days on foods like cheese and ham, while it decreased quickly on items such as apples and olives.

FSA microbiology risk assessment team leader Anthony Wilson said: “In the early stages of the pandemic, we didn’t know much about how the virus would survive on different food surfaces and packaging, so the risk assessment was based on a worst-case assumption.

“This research gives us additional insight into the stability of coronavirus on the surfaces of a variety of foods and confirms that assumptions we made in the early stages of the pandemic were appropriate and that the probability that you can catch Covid via food is very low.”

The FSA has confirmed there will be no change to their current advice that additional precautions are not required because of COVID outside of usual good hygiene practices.

When considering packaged foods, this study and other similar findings have shown that SARS-CoV-2 may be able to survive, for a prolonged period on food packaging.

Future studies should recognize that incubating infectious agents on bare aluminum is not the same as on a coated aluminum can, nor on plain cardboard when considering coated drinks cartons, i.e., risk assessments should take into account the specific material concerned.

For all the latest packaging and printing industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Related posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.