EFSA Ensures That EU Standards Guarantee Protection Against Coronavirus

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an EU body based in Parma (Italy), said today, from the mouth of its executive director, Bernhard Url, that “EU food safety standards already guarantee protection against to the coronavirus ”.

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Url, of Croatian origin, has made this statement in an interview with the EURACTIV-Croatia portal, in which he explains that despite the fact that the coronavirus can survive on surfaces for a limited period of time, food protection standards in the EU member states guarantee a high level of safeguard against contaminated food.

The interview was conducted on the occasion of the meeting of the 75 EFSA advisory forum, which in principle was scheduled for between today and tomorrow, in person, in the town of Osijek, headquarters of the Croatian agency for food security, but that -due to the coronavirus pandemic- it had to be “reconverted” into a virtual meeting by videoconference.

The executive recalled that at this time there is no scientific evidence to support the thesis that food can be a route for the transmission of COVID-19, as EFSA made clear in a statement on March 9.

“Transmission (of the coronavirus) affects the respiratory tract. This means that the virus is spread by the breathing drops produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, “Url stressed.

A person infected with the coronavirus can contaminate food if they do not wash their hands before preparing it or if they cough on it, through those contaminated (breath) drops. However, Url has pointed out that food safety standards in the EU guarantee a high level of protection against contaminated food.

Hygiene standards, key to prevention

In the words of the director of EFSA, the EU has strict rules that guarantee food safety, and that includes biosecurity measures and hygiene practices for all workers in the food sector in Europe, one of the strongest in the world.

These measures, he adds, already offer a high degree of protection to EU consumers against other kinds of possible infections through contaminated food, not only against the coronavirus.

Despite this, I will never tire of stressing the importance of having high levels of hygiene, also in our homes, when we are preparing food, “Url stressed, while reminding that correct cleaning measures are essential , not only to protect against COVID-19, but also against other airborne infections.

“We can all take some simple prevention measures, such as washing our hands and cleaning all those surfaces and utensils that come into contact with food; wash your hands and cook food properly, for example, “he said.

In addition to that, Url has said that COVID-19, like other well-known coronaviruses, is especially sensitive to high cooking temperatures.

Avoid cross contamination

The Belgian authorities recently made the decision to restrict certain types of food served in restaurants and cafes. This measure follows the recommendations of the WHO, which has issued a series of preventive advice, including hygiene practices during food treatment and processing, including cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding possible cross-contamination between cooked foods. and raw.

Asked about which scientific study supports the conclusion that coronavirus transmission does not occur through food, Url has mentioned the experience of other similar outbreaks of coronavirus, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and respiratory syndrome of Middle East (MERS).

The EFSA Executive Director has also pointed out that both the WHO and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) share the same opinion: food is not a transmission vector for COVID-19.

However, Url added that EFSA closely monitors the situation and is alert to any new scientific information on the pandemic.

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