Experts stressed, however, that the data does not apply to the current pandemic of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
“There’s no evidence right now to support transmission of Covid-19 by our food supply,” said Dr. Patricia Griffin, chief of the CDC’s enteric diseases epidemiology branch.
“Covid-19 is caused by a different pathogen, with a different mode of transmission, different biology, different epidemiology,” said food safety expert Benjamin Chapman, a professor in the department of agricultural and human sciences at North Carolina State University, who was not involved in the report, who was not involved in the report.
“The foodborne pathogens that we’re talking about here are ones that we have identified for years that cause millions and millions of illnesses from consuming food. We don’t have any examples or any history Covid-19 being transmitted by food at all,” Chapman said.
A dangerous trend continues
“We’ve been stalled in many aspects of preventing foodborne disease for many years,” Griffin said. “Our systems allow pathogens to enter our food supply and that we’re not doing everything we can to get them out. We need to have better control measures at all levels.”
Chapman agreed: “This is not a new problem,” he said. “Food safety issues continue to occur along the food chain, from farms to processing plants to grocery stores to restaurants and the home.”
“We spent a lot of time on trying to change behaviors and there are a lot of good things that are happening, but the actual payoff for public health is in the reduction of illness and we’re just not seeing it.”
New approaches are need to combat the problem, the report said, which must affect each part of the food chain, from farm to the final destination in restaurants and kitchens.
“It’s not just one area,” Chapman said. “We need more vigilance on the farm level. We need better technology in production and distribution. It’s consumer habits. We need to rethink the ones that we have been looking at and do them in a smarter and better way. It really is how do we get people to care about this?”