A group of experts from all Canadian federal food safety partners was formed to monitor the potential issues relating to SARS-CoV-2 food contamination, to gather and consider all of the relevant evidence and to determine the impact for Canadian food safety. A comprehensive risk pathway was generated to consider the likelihood of a SARS-CoV-2 contamination event at any of the relevant steps of the food processing and handling chain, and potential for exposure and transmission of the virus to the consumer. The scientific evidence was reviewed and assessed for each event in the pathway, taking into consideration relevant elements that could increase or mitigate the risk of contamination. The advantage of having an event-wise contextualization of the SARS-CoV-2 transmission pathway through the food chain, is that it provides a systematic and consistent approach to evaluate any new data and communicate its importance and impact. The pathway also increases the objectivity and consistency of the assessment in a rapidly evolving and high-stakes situation. Based on our review and analysis, there is currently no comprehensive epidemiological evidence of confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2, or its variants, causing COVID-19 from transmission through food or food packaging. Considering the remote possibility of exposure through food, the likelihood of exposure by ingestion or contact with mucosa is considered negligible to very low and good hygiene practices during food preparation should continue to be followed.
A comprehensive risk pathway of the qualitative likelihood of human exposure to SARS-CoV-2 from the food chain
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Annie Locas, Julie Brassard, Megan Rose-Martel, Dominic Lambert, Alyssa Green, Anne Deckert, Michelle Illing; A comprehensive risk pathway of the qualitative likelihood of human exposure to SARS-CoV-2 from the food chain. J Food Prot 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.4315/JFP-21-218
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