New COVID test for food packaging and surfaces

New COVID test for food packaging and surfaces

One company has come up with a new COVID test for food packaging and environmental surfaces, aiming to reduce risk of illness and closures.

The British Medical Journal has called meat plants the “new front line” in the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are not the only facilities at risk. A report released by shareholder advisor Pirc in September said there had been at least 1,461 SARS-CoV-2 infections and six deaths linked to the UK’s food processing plants this year.

Factories, retailers and hospitality establishments are favourable environments for transmission. Workplaces are crowded, social distancing can be challenging, and the virus thrives in lower temperatures. Crucially, metallic surfaces can retain live viruses for longer than those of other materials.

Outbreaks result in staff shortages, factory closures, and lost revenues. They also introduce risk into the value chain. Studies have shown that in some conditions, the virus can remain viable on common surfaces, such as that used for food packaging, for up to 28 days.

The Thermo Scientific SARS-CoV-2 PCR Workflow for food packaging and environmental surfaces encompasses sampling, sample preparation, detection and can deliver results in as little as three hours, providing the information needed to manage any potential surface or packaging contamination risks.

  • The test targets three different viral genomic regions, ORF1ab, N-gene, S-gene, reducing the risk of false negatives
  • Extensive bioinformatic selection and analysis has been undertaken to specifically target sequences that are unique to SARS-CoV-2
  • The RNase P assay is run in duplex with the combined 2019-nCoV assays as an internal positive control.

Bernd Hofmann, vice president marketing, Thermo Fisher Microbiology, said: “SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted when a healthy person touches contaminated food or environmental contact surfaces, including packaging materials, and then touches their eyes, mouth, or nose. In the current pandemic, food and beverage companies, retailers, public health authorities and other businesses are seeking solutions to monitor the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in their environments. This is crucial to protecting key workers, consumers, and the food industry as a whole.

“As a company that supplies the components for more than 50 percent of COVID-19 diagnostics, we are uniquely placed to help the sector rise to the challenge of SARS-CoV-2.”

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