Again addressing ill-founded fears among Chinese consumers that imported salmon may be infected with novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the McLean, Virginia-headquartered National Seafood Institute (NFI) on June 22 released a statement about the safety of seafood from the United States.
The World Health Organization, United National Food and Agriculture Organization, and all major national food safety agencies have reported that there is no connection between seafood and COVID-19.
Specific to imported seafood that Chinese families buy for home consumption, Shi Guoqing, an expert with the National Health Commission, stated: “There’s no evidence so far showing salmon are the origin or intermediate hosts of the coronavirus.”
Salmon was recently pulled from supermarket shelves in China after a cluster of COVID-19 infections was believed to have originated from a chopping board used to cut imported salmon from Europe at the Xinfadi Market, a major wholesale outlet in the southwestern corner of capital city Beijing.
Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist with the China CDC, tried to put consumers at ease about the incident during a television interview last week by pointing out that a positive coronavirus test result from a salmon chopping block “doesn’t indicate much,” as it could have been contaminated by workers or shoppers.
“Consumers in China and in other countries should be aware that seafood portioned and prepared in America must comply with the rules and regulations of the United States Food and Drug Administration to ensure safe food,” said NFI President John Connelly. “Importantly, the systems that seafood companies in the United States have implemented for more than 20 years now serve as a model for other countries and foods. Companies must also keep their workers safe by following the directives of the United States’ Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”
Since the onset of COVID-19, members of the National Fisheries Institute, the major seafood trade association in the United States and many of whose members export American seafood to China, have also implemented the laws of numerous states, and the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, industry best practices, CODEX Alimentarius, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Health Organization, and the recommendations of academics and other public health experts.
“NFI member companies have strict protocols in place to prevent, detect, and isolate any spread of COVID-19 on their boats or in their processing plants, and follow sanitary transport rules to prevent contamination of seafood being exported to China,” said Connelly. “American seafood remains safe and healthy for Chinese families.”