Beijing outbreak: “Consumers still have difficulty accepting that salmon is safe to eat”

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Before Friday, the Chinese market had recovered to 70 percent of pre-pandemic-levels.

After weeks with almost no new coronavirus infections, Beijing has recorded new cases in recent days linked linked to a major wholesale food market. Authorities in the megacity said it was on “wartime alert” after fears of a second wave.

Local health officials claimed that coronavirus was detected on a chopping board for imported salmon at Xinfadi market. The imported salmon was from Jingshen seafood market, which was also shut down on Friday.

This has now sparked speculations on whether the fish can spread the virus. Though there is currently no evidence that food is a source of coronavirus (COVID-19) and it is very unlikely it can be transmitted through the consumption of food, according to EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).

SalmonBusiness reported that major supermarkets, food markets including Carrefour and Wumart and restaurants have taken salmon from its stores in the capital. Beijing airport was also closed for salmon flights.

Experts said it is extremely unlikely for seafood like salmon to be the carrier of the novel coronavirus, which was found on cutting boards.

“As the probe into the cause of the latest outbreak is underway, salmon business around the world will be affected,” Cui He, president of the China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), told the Global Times on Sunday.

“Compared with the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak months ago, this development is nothing for the industry. The prevention and control measures are more restrained, and the government and the industry have been quicker to respond,” Cui said.

Though Cui added that although none of the salmon in the seafood markets has been found to carry the virus so far, “consumers still have difficulty accepting that salmon is safe to eat.”

Weng Qiang, a purchasing manager at Sunkfa Holding Group, a leading seafood company based in Beijing, told the Global Times that all seafood products – including salmon –  are being held at ports by customs until further notice. “Before the Xinfadi incident, the Chinese market had recovered to 70 percent of the pre-pandemic level,” Weng said.