Covid19 virus in meat products

Our Leader has used his power of the Defense Production Act to order the meat-packing plants in the U.S. to remain open despite that they have been identified as hot beds for the covid19 virus. Additionally, regulations, such as line speed, have been loosened or waived at the plants in order to speed up production, as a substitute for workers who have fallen ill. I’ve read that the covid19 virus cannot live in food products. The thing is, I read at the the beginning of the pandemic that the general public was wasting their time wearing face masks (homemade), Now the use of a mask is almost mandatory “to help curb the spread”. We were told at the beginning that the virus was respiratory, and now we have learned it also significantly affects our circulatory system, although it “appears” to enter through our respiratory system. The virus has been found in human intestines, and other organs. We know that although atypical, the virus can cause nausea and diarrhea, which argues for a digestive route. We know that the virus can live up to two years on frozen products. So bottom line, I don’t put a lot of faith in “the virus can’t live in food products”, especially the moist environment of meats. Therefore my question: will sous vide kill a virus, and if so under what SV conditions? Can I assume that normal SV conditions for meat or chicken, which we know will kill bacteria, will also kill a virus? I’m not ready to give up meat, and my primary method for cooking meat is SV.

Well, you’re asking people to comment on that topic when no-one has any data? :slight_smile:
Maybe Covid-19 is more resistant to heat than our typical food-born pathogens (which tend to die off by the 127F mark). I think it unlikely that any similar virus could withstand sustained temperatures like what we use for our cooking. This is, in part, why the flu season dies off for the summer months, returning in the fall. There’s been some conversation over how long the virus can exist on various surfaces. Me, I think under the cellophane of a meat package, at the grocery store is a pretty inhospitable environment for it to survive.
Given all that, unless we see new data that suggests there’s risk, I’d say there’s a very high probability that your meat products are safe when they arrive home (inside the package) and almost a certainty that what you consume is free of any of the live virus.

That is what’s frustrating - no data, yet “they” conclude that “it’s probably safe”.
I did find this on the WHO website: “Heat at 56°C kills the SARS coronavirus at around 10000 units per 15 min (quick reduction).” So I am going to make the assumption that SV around 133 degrees F for at least 1 hour will kill it.
However, I also found this on the WHO website " Normal temperatures used for cooking (so that food reaches 70oC - 158F in all parts) will kill the virus" - this, in reference to the avian H5N1 virus. I haven’t SV cooked any piece of meat yet at that temperature.

FWIW, I’m going with the 133 degrees for at least one hour. Most meats will be SVed longer than this anyway. Sorry to be a worrier. I’m in the extra at risk population.

I do not have any specific information on this virus but remember the pasteurization is also time dependent in sous vide. The temperature you often see as safe for foods relate to a very short time at the higher temperature.

So, to at least beat the “surface” risk of the virus lingering on the packaging etc - I purchased a commericial grade Ozone Generator with the ability to produce 12,000 MCGs per hour - if you do research you’ll know this is heavy duty ozone which kills viruses on contact I use gloves to take my groceries inside and I place them in a small powder room and blast them for about 30 mins… then I run the ventilation fan for several more minutes to vent the left over ozone (not good for humans, pets or plants to be exposed to) Hopefully this adds an additional level of protection for my household. The unit ran just under $300…

Can’t comment on if meat packing plant workers who get infected can pass the virus onto the products that eventually make it to our grocery stores… I can’t invest that much concern - gotta get back to living.

Thanks, Jakerobinson. Your suggestion gave me another thought. I have a UVC light. Seems like I could use that to disinfect the surface, and I really can’t see the virus getting beneath the surface of meat. Sounds like you are really giving your family an advantage in the covid19 fight. Good luck to you.

Thanks Dru - I also don’t want to be an unwitting vector to my 88 yo mom-n-law. Seems like worthy investment - glad to spark your thought on UVC light - very cool

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Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 via food.
Unlike bacteria, viruses cannot grow inside food, so the amount of virus in the food would be expected to dwindle with time, rather than grow.

It’s also very unlikely that the virus would survive the highly acidic conditions of the stomach.

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We can all live safely by adopting prudent habits. Viruses are sneaky having indirect and unseen methods of infecting us. The real danger, as in most food products, is through improper handling and cross-contamination. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, - and always segregate raw food from cooked and stored items to avoid touching them until needed.

Employing your home made 3% bleach wet wipes for surface area decontamination will get us through this. (I make it fresh daily by adding 15 ml/1 Tablespoon bleach to a 750 ml / 25 oz. standard wine/spirits bottle of water.) Everything you might touch gets the treatment; light switches, phones, controllers, every handle, switch, and knob you see. Wear gloves to protect your skin from the bleach.

I have been unable to find any research regarding this SARS-2 coronavirus and food transmission, however I did find one very recent study comparing transmissability of the norovirus versus the coronavirus on various substances and food. Basically, the bottom line was yes, the coronavirus (but not necessarily the SARS2 coronavirus) can be transmitted via food, and can actually remain infective for many days at low temperatures. However, they felt that the chance of transmission through food was very low. A quote from the article: “…it is not possible to make direct comparisons between NoVs (noroviruses) and CoVs (coronaviruses) over their stabilities on foods (both solid and liquid foods) or possible food-contact surfaces. Nevertheless, it seems that both NoVs and CoVs were able to remain infectious on foods and/or food packaging materials long enough (from several days to several weeks) to potentially cause transmission especially at low temperatures.” One item that would seem particularly relevant to meat : “Air-dried SARS-CoV on polystyrene surfaces retained its infectivity for 6 days at 4 °C.” So care in handling meat packaging would also seem prudent. On the brighter side, it seems that the coronavirus is more susceptible to disinfectants and UVC light that NoV.

Thanks for the tips on homemade bleach towels. I plan to make generous use of them in my kitchen, especially.

Wiping things down with the almost free bleach/water soaked rags is a good idea even if we were not worried about Covid-19 virus.

I saw a video of a person in a normal kitchen preparing a chicken. The bird was coated with a dye that would glow green under black light. After the preparation they were amazed where the dye had gotten even though they were trying to be careful. Particularly disturbing was the green on their face from inadvertent touching. People also get a false sense of security when wearing gloves in the kitchen. Gloved hands really only protect your skin and are ineffective unless you wash or change them often which is not practical.

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I would just squirt some hand sanitizer onto the meat … rub it in, then wipe the meat off with some lysol wipes… good to go!!
I’m sorry… there are so many rules & regulations regarding Covid, yet it seems the “worlds top scientists & medical teams” can’t come up with real facts, without changing them 10 times…
I was just trying to make a funny, we all need to smile/laugh a bit more these days!
Stay well & enjoy sous vide!

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I have to say, you had me going there for a minute! Yikes! Thanks for the reminder to smile and laugh more.

There is no need to worry about Covid19 in food. The only way to catch it is to breath in the virus through the nose or mouth, so unless you plan on breathing in your food, relax. And the purpose of the surgical mask is not to protect the wearer from catching the disease from those around him. The mask protects those around the wearer FROM the wearer. Any protection I get from wearing a mask is minimal. If every single person wears a mask, though, you prevent every single person from spreading the disease.

I’m not so sure of that, particularly the only. Is that fact or opinion?

It’s my understanding that you can become infected by a virus from your hands too. That’s the reason there is so much current emphasis on hand washing and regularly disinfecting surfaces likely to be touched.
And keep your hands below your shoulders.

I’m likely more health and safety conscious than most folks, - and that’s my challenge. However when shopping for groceries and i observe someone licking their fingers to open a produce bag, i just want to leave the store as quickly as possible. i hear many infected people are asymptomatic, that’s why i do worry about Covid-19 in, or on, my food.

Keep well all.

That is fact. Medical experts have clearly stated that the virus is a respiratory disease, not transmittable through ingestion of any type. And the reason for washing the hands is that if you place virus covered hands to the face, you can then breathe in the virus.

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I’m a fan of erring on the side of caution:

Coronavirus can also spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects. For example, a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.
The virus may be shed in saliva, semen, and feces; whether it is shed in vaginal fluids isn’t known. Kissing can transmit the virus. Transmission of the virus through feces, or during vaginal or anal intercourse or oral sex, appears to be extremely unlikely at this time.

Mode of transmission: Current data suggest person-to-person transmission most commonly happens during close exposure to a person infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, primarily via respiratory droplets produced when the infected person speaks, coughs, or sneezes. Droplets can land in the mouths, noses, or eyes of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs of those within close proximity. Transmission also might occur through contact with contaminated surfaces followed by self-delivery to the eyes, nose, or mouth. The contribution of small respirable particles, sometimes called aerosols or droplet nuclei, to close proximity transmission is currently uncertain.

I agree. They are still learning about covid19, but on autopsy, it has been found in every organ in the body, including the brain. Transmission through the gastrointestinal system has been documented in about 10% of cases. It can enter and infect the heart through its ACE2 receptors. So I too will err on the side of caution.

just cook properly