Hong Kong finds COVID in samples of pork packaging and beef imports

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HONG KONG, Feb 22 (Reuters) – Hong Kong authorities said they found COVID-19 in samples taken from the packaging of imports of frozen beef from Brazil and frozen pork skin from Poland, vowing to step up imported food inspections.

The global financial center is deploying a “dynamic zero COVID” strategy similar to that of mainland China, aiming to eradicate any epidemic at all costs. Authorities are on high alert as a new wave of infections proves harder to control.

The number of daily infections has risen sharply this year, reaching a record 7,533 cases on Monday, overwhelming the government’s testing, hospitalization and quarantine capacities.

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The Center for Food Safety (CFS) took 36 samples for testing from a batch of around 1,100 cartons of frozen beef, weighing a total of 29 tons, imported from Brazil by sea. He found one outer packaging and two inner packaging samples that tested positive.

It also collected 12 samples from a batch of around 300 cartons of frozen pigskin, weighing around 7 tonnes, imported from Poland by sea. A sample of interior packaging tested positive for COVID-19.

“The CFS has ordered affected importers to remove beef and pork skins from the same batches,” the government said in a statement late Monday. “Additionally, CFS will intensify sampling of similar products for testing.”

Hong Kong has been monitoring frozen food imports for COVID-19 since mid-2020 and found positive samples on packages of pomfret fish in August 2021 and on packages of cuttlefish in November 2021.

Authorities have said COVID-19 is transmitted primarily through droplets and cannot multiply in food or food packaging, and is unlikely to be transmitted to humans through food consumption. .

Nevertheless, they recommend people to handle raw food separately, follow hygiene rules and cook food thoroughly.

With enhanced inspections on food imports, Hong Kong is once again following in mainland China’s footsteps when it comes to COVID-19 policies. Unlike other countries, China cites frozen food packaging as a risk for spreading COVID-19.

Mainland China had announced a number of cases of the virus found on refrigerated food packaging, prompting rejections of goods and complaints from exporters. The World Health Organization says neither food nor packaging are known routes of transmission.

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Reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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