Potential role of food in the transmission of the virus


The new COVID-19 is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. WHO is coordinating an effort to understand the potential for persistence of SARS-CoV-2 on foods traded internationally as well as the potential role of food in the transmission of the virus. The most likely ecological reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2 are bats, but it is believed that the virus jumped the species barrier to humans from another intermediate animal host. This intermediate animal host could be a domestic food animal, a wild animal, or a domesticated wild animal which has not yet been identified. Experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses, such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) show that transmission through food consumption did not occur. To date, there have not been any reports of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus through food. As a precautionary rule, the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, raw milk or raw animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods. For details, see Situation Report 32.