The General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China announced on 24 May that samples of the packaging of frozen meat products imported from meat product manufacturers in Brazil with registration numbers SIF2015, SIF2058, SIF337 and SIF2543 tested positive in novel coronavirus nucleic acid tests. In view of this, the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) has immediately launched the contingency plan and adopted measures such as source tracing, investigation and re-tests of the products of the involved manufacturers. Local businesses have been requested to immediately seal the products sourced from the involved manufacturers. Moreover, samples have been collected again for re-tests and no abnormalities have been found in the results. Meanwhile, IAM has immediately suspended the import applications of the products of the involved manufacturers.
Since July 2020, IAM has collected samples of frozen meat products imported from Brazil and their outer and inner packaging for nucleic acid tests for multiple times, and novel coronavirus has not been found. Over the past three months, IAM has also carried out disinfection and sample testing of the products imported from the mentioned country in compliance with epidemic prevention measures, and only products which have passed the inspections can enter Macao.
IAM has continuously adopted prevention and regulation measures on imported cold-chain food products, and has formulated contingency plans corresponding to the risks. When notified that novel coronavirus is detected in goods from a registered establishment in a certain country or region, IAM takes a series of arrangements to suspend the application for import and inspection on the level of import into Macao. When the suspension period expires and import application is resumed, IAM carries out nucleic acid tests on the outer packaging, inner packaging and food products of the registered establishment so as to strictly prevent the transmission of novel coronavirus through cold-chain food products and their outer packaging. On the level of market sales and circulation, IAM reviews the stock of the products previously imported from the registered establishment into Macao through the “cold-chain food products tracing system” and notifies businesses to immediately seal the products concerned. Moreover, IAM sends staff to collect random samples for nucleic acid tests again to further eliminate the risk.
According to the information of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the research of international food safety risk assessment organisations, there is currently no evidence that novel coronavirus pneumonia can be directly transmitted through food. The public should always pay attention to their personal, food and environmental hygiene and keep the following in mind:
l Purchase cold-chain food products from licensed and reputable businesses. Especially when making purchases on the Internet or through shopping agents, consumers must know clearly the source, storage and transportation conditions of the purchased cold-chain food products and ensure that the products satisfy the laws and regulations regarding the import of live and fresh food products to Macao;
l When making purchases, consumers must pay attention to their personal hygiene and protection. They should wash their hands frequently, wear face masks properly and keep social distance. When choosing food products, consumers should avoid using their hands to touch the products directly and they should use tongs or other tools instead. After choosing the products, they should use alcoholic hand rub to clean their hands thoroughly;
l After bringing the food products home, they can be separated in lidded containers or food storage plastic bags and placed in the refrigerator. If the food products have outer packaging, consumers can also use cotton containing 75% alcohol to clean the surface of the packaging and store them separately in the refrigerator;
l When handling food, consumers should handle raw food and cooked food separately, and use two different sets of knives, cutting boards and containers for them. After handling food, the wash basins, kitchen equipment and countertops should be disinfected thoroughly. Refrigerators should also be cleaned and disinfected regularly;
l Food must be thoroughly cooked before consumption. Meanwhile, make sure both hands are clean before eating or touching food.