Covid-19 was discovered in samples obtained from the packaging of frozen beef imported from Brazil and frozen pig skin imported from Poland in Hong Kong, according to the city’s regulators, who promised to increase food inspections.
The global financial center follows mainland China’s “dynamic zero Covid” plan, which aims to eliminate any outbreaks at any cost. Authorities are on high alert as a new wave of diseases proves difficult to contain.
The number of daily infections has climbed dramatically this year, reaching a new high of 7,533 cases on Monday, far outstripping the government’s testing, hospital, and quarantine capacity.
The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) took 36 samples for testing from a batch of 1,100 cartons of frozen beef shipped by sea from Brazil, which weighed a total of 29 tonnes.
One outside packaging sample and two interior packaging samples were determined to be positive.
It also took 12 samples from a batch of 300 cartons of frozen pig skin imported by sea from Poland, weighing roughly 7 tonnes. COVID-19 was found in one sample of inner packaging.
“The CFS has ordered the importers concerned to dispose of the beef and pork skin of the same batches,” the government said in a statement late on Monday. “In addition, the CFS will step up the sampling of similar products for testing.”
Since mid-2020, Hong Kong has started screening frozen food imports for Covid-19, and positive samples were discovered on pomfret fish packaging in August 2021 and cuttlefish packaging in November 2021.
Covid-19 is mostly transmitted by droplets, is unable to proliferate in food or food packaging, and is improbable to be spread to people via food intake, according to authorities.
Nonetheless, they advise that raw food be handled separately, that hygiene guidelines be followed, and that food be adequately cooked.
Hong Kong is once again adopting mainland China’s Covid-19 restrictions on food imports, with increased inspections. Unlike other nations, China considers frozen food packaging to be a potential source of Covid-19 transmission.
A number of incidences of the virus were discovered on chilled food packaging in Mainland China, leading to product rejections and exporter complaints. According to the WHO, neither food nor packaging is recognized transmission vectors.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)