23 May 20 Environmental testing for COVID-19: a scientific point of view
It is important at this time to question whether environmental testing for COVID-19 is a suitable approach for detecting the virus in your manufacturing or retail premises.
At the start of the spread of COVID-19, Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services, or FACTS, the Stellenbosch-based expert consultancy and lab, identified suitable testing methods for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Based on scientific evidence, its understanding of the virus and the relevant applications in the food industry, it chose not to add this testing option to its testing catalogue.
FACTS says its rationale for doing so has since been shown to be in line with the US FDA:
“Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. Therefore, we do not believe there is a need to conduct environmental testing in food settings for the virus that causes COVID-19 for the purpose of food safety.
“Cleaning and sanitising the surfaces is a better use of resources than testing to see if the virus is present. Facilities are required to use personnel practices that protect against contamination of food, food contact surfaces and packaging, and to maintain clean and sanitised facilities and food contact surfaces.
“Although it is possible that an infected worker may have touched surfaces in your facility, FDA-regulated food manufacturers are required to follow Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs).
“Maintaining CGMPs in the facility should minimise the potential for surface contamination and eliminate contamination when it occurs.
“With the detection of the coronavirus in asymptomatic people and studies showing survival of coronavirus on surfaces for short periods of time, as an extra precaution food facilities may want to consider a more frequent cleaning and sanitation schedule for high human-contact surfaces.”
Head to the FACTS website to read a summary by its scientific officers and Prof Pieter Gouws from the Centre for Food Safety at Stellenbosch University, for more on testing… CLICK HERE
GENERAL INFORMATION: Information on the extent of transmission of the Coronavirus and the development of the world’s understanding of the nature of transmission is changing daily. To assist, FACTS collates information that will support the food industry during this time.
See more here: COVID-19: General & Food Safety Guidance
WEBINARS & PODCASTS: Information overload can sometimes leave you feeling overwhelmed, specifically trying to keep up with all the COVID-19 related webinars in the food industry.
FACTS has collected and compiled a comprehensive table with webinars, podcasts and media briefs relating to COVID-19 – there is a wealth of resources listed here in one place.