In partnership with The Fresh Toast
A new study finds evidence that the coronavirus can survive in your freezer, leading to infections that are difficult to trace.
There’s a new source of COVID risk, this time, from an unexpected place. New research shows that the coronavirus can survive for more than 30 days in frozen meat.
The study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, tested different meats and exposed them to freezer environments to gauge their reactions. They also wanted to see if it was a possibility for people to catch the virus from these sources.
Researchers used surrogate viruses for their test, using ones that had similar spikes to the coronavirus. They tested them on beef, salmon, pork and chicken. They claimed that the study mattered since COVID is known to replicate in the gut, not only in the lungs and respiratory tract.
“Although you might not store meat in the fridge for 30 days, you might store it in the freezer for that long,” said the study’s first author and assistant professor at Campbell University, Emily Bailey. “We even found that the viruses could be cultured after [being frozen for] that length of time.”
Researchers decided to take on the study after they learned that COVID outbreaks were occurring in places in Southeast Asia where there were no community transmissions. This lead researchers to believe that prepackaged meats could be the culprits, especially if these were prepared in areas where there was the presence of COVID.
Bailey explains that this research should serve as an opening for more studies and for those who handle food to be more careful and aware of this issue.
“Continued efforts are needed to prevent contamination of foods and food processing surfaces, worker hands and food processing utensils such as knives,” concluded the researchers. “The lack of, or inadequate disinfection of these foods prior to packaging needs to be addressed.”
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