The question of whether or not the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted through food has been a concern since the beginning of the pandemic. To explore this possibility, University of Georgia (UGA) researchers attempted to detect SARS-CoV-2 on frozen berries, as well as investigate the virus’ persistence and possible reduction strategies. The researchers determined that the virus could remain infectious on the surface of frozen berries for over a month.
The researchers chose to study frozen berries as they are a common vehicle for other viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A.
According to the results, although SARS-CoV-2 persisted and remained infectious on the surface of the inoculated berries after 28 days, refrigeration at 39 °F showed a 90 percent reduction in the virus’ infectivity over three days. Washing berries in water prior to freezing was also shown to reduce the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2 by 90 percent.
The UGA researchers stress the importance of those who produce commercially prepared, frozen berries to adhere to food safety, sanitation, and hygiene protocols to prevent initial contamination.