Ice cream tests positive for Covid in China
No need to panic, virologists say this is an unfortunate one-off
Traces of Covid-19 have been found on samples of ice cream produced at a factory located in north China. Authorities have closed down the plant and seized thousands of products, and people who have come into contact with the samples, produced by Tianjin Daqiaodao Food Company, have been contacted and traced. All 1,662 employees at the company have been placed in quarantine and subsequently tested, with 700 negative results so far (at the time of writing) and 962 still to be confirmed.
Epidemiological investigations conducted so far have concluded that the samples of ice cream that tested positive were made using milk powder from New Zealand and whey powder from Ukraine.
Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, says this incident should not generate panic as it is a "one-off" which "has likely come from a person", as well as a combination of factors including "issues with the production plant and hygiene at the factory".
"We don’t need to panic that every bit of ice cream is suddenly going to be contaminated with coronavirus," Dr Griffin said. "The cold temperature that ice cream is stored at and the fact that it contains fat could explain why the virus had survived".
Tianjin authorities have confirmed that a total of 4,836 ice cream boxes may have been potentially contaminated. Over 2,000 of those boxes have already been discarded, 935 were still at the factory when the news broke out, while 1,747 have been distributed but not sold and only 65 were sold. Authorities have been working to trace these boxes and local residents have been instructed to get tested with relevant medical bodies in their area.