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China Tests Food for Coronavirus After Outbreak From This One Item

After an outbreak of COVID-19 from one restaurant, people in China are questioning if you can contract the virus through food.

Even though the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that there is "no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food," due to a recent outbreak in Beijing, China, there's now questioning around if this statement is actually true. Last week, reports were released that an outbreak of coronavirus took place in Beijing from one particular restaurant. The common denominator? Salmon.

According to The New York Times, salmon that was used on the same cutting board inside a Japanese restaurant located in Beijing, has been linked to the outbreak that took place last week. The restaurant has now closed up, and there is genuine fear in China that the coronavirus can actually be spread through food—salmon in particular.

Numerous consumers have avoided buying salmon since announcements of the outbreak, causing another economic dip in salmon sales.

Can you really get the virus through salmon?

Long story short, no. The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and The Norwegian Seafood Council all stated that the virus cannot be transmitted through food and the safety that goes into packaging and exporting salmon. The fact that it comes from a particular animal has been debunked.

However, that does not mean that fresh fish and meat in different markets can somehow become contaminated before hitting your plate. Reports of food markets in Beijing say they are severely contaminated with coronavirus, and now unsanitary practices and low temperatures in the markets are being questioned, according to Reuters.

Needless to say, this hasn't stopped experts from China testing food for coronavirus in order to solidify that these claims are true. As of recently, people in China have been adamantly avoiding salmon because of that one outbreak, fearing that the virus can come from the fish itself. These tests are being held to further learn why the spread occurred this way and to hopefully ease the fears of consumers.

What does the United States say?

Right now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says they are aware of the China testing food for coronavirus but reiterated that there is still no standing evidence that you can contract COVID-19 through food.

"The FDA is aware of reports that China will begin testing foods particular produce, seafood and meat for COVID-19," said Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner of Food Policy and Response at the FDA, on Twitter. "We continue to review all available science as we assess the virus that causes COVID-19. Following standard hygiene practices, safe food handling, and using cooking practices that protect us from foodborne illness remain important."

We will continue to report on this developing story as testing in China continues. For now, follow our newsletter for the latest coronavirus food news and updates.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten
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