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Appl Environ Microbiol ; 88(12): e0050422, 2022 06 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1879112


Multiple pathways of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission have been examined, and the role of contaminated foods as a source of SARS-CoV-2 exposure has been suggested. As many cases of SARS-CoV-2 have been linked to meat processing plants, it may be that conditions in live animal markets and slaughterhouses or meat processing plant procedures transfer viral particles to meat, poultry, and seafood during animal slaughter, processing, storage, or transport. Because of the potential for contamination of foods such as beef, chicken, pork, or fish, the goal of this study was to evaluate the survival of a lipid enveloped RNA bacteriophage, phi 6, as well as two animal coronaviruses, murine hepatitis virus (MHV) and transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV), as SARS-CoV-2 surrogates for their survival under various meat and fish cold-storage conditions over 30 days. Viral surrogates differed in survival, depending on food product and temperature, but overall, viruses survived for extended periods of time at high concentrations at both refrigerated and frozen temperatures. The ability of SARS-CoV-2 viral surrogates like Phi 6 and animal coronaviruses to survive for varying extents on some meat and fish products when stored refrigerated or frozen is a significant and concerning finding. Continued efforts are needed to prevent contamination of foods and food processing surfaces, worker hands, and food processing utensils such as knives, and there is a need to better address the lack of or inadequate disinfection of these foods prior to meat packaging. IMPORTANCE The ability of SARS-CoV-2 viral surrogates like Phi 6 and animal coronaviruses to survive for long periods on meat and fish products at cold temperatures emphasizes the need for rigorous and sustained food sanitation and hygiene in the harvest, transport, processing, and distribution of these foods.

COVID-19 , Murine hepatitis virus , Animals , Cattle , Fish Products , Meat , Mice , SARS-CoV-2