14th February 2020
Food has not been identified as a likely source or route of transmission.
Genome sequencing of the virus has revealed high similarity to bat coronavirus although other animal species can act as host and animal reservoirs (SARS was linked to civet cats although was believed to have originated in bats and MERS was thought to have routed to humans from camels).
Current understanding suggests respiratory secretions are the key source of transmission. In SARS there were reports of transmission from consuming affected animals and in MERS, consumption of raw camel milk or camel products from affected camels was reported as an infection source.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is not currently involved in the Covid-19 outbreak as food has not been identified as a likely source or route of transmission.
It is not known how long the virus can survive outside of a host. The main mode of transmission is from person to person.
There is no evidence that food items imported in the EU and UK, in accordance with animal and public health regulations governing imports from China, pose any risk for the health of EU citizens.
We are able to offer a non-accredited PCR test for covid-19 coronavirus in food and swabs if required, however, we reiterate, there is currently no evidence of food (destined for the human food chain) as a route of transmission in this outbreak so far.
Further information can be found:
This briefing was written by Food Forensics Ltd Registered Office; 5 Frensham Road, Sweetbriar Ind. Estate, Norwich, NR3 2BT Company No 07647866 VAT No 118 3446 21