Video: More research needed on foodborne transmission of the COVID-19 causing virus, scientist says

Final studies needed to determine this possibility

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By Emma Gregory

The potential for foodborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19 causing virus, has not been established.

There has been research into this possibility, none of which rules out the possibility of food contamination or fecal oral transmission.

Hamada Aboubakr is a postdoctoral research associate at the department of bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the University of Minnesota. He and an associate, Sagar Goyal, submitted a paper for peer review in Sept. 2020, outlining the possibility for SARS-CoV-2 to spread via the fecal-oral route or via food.

The COVID causing virus satisfies their criteria for foodborne transmission, and they conclude that more research is needed into the possibility of this occurring.

Similar conclusions are put forward in a Nature Review paper published in Feb. 2021.

Food becomes a transmitter for viruses when it comes into contact with contaminated feces, often via untreated waste water, as explained in Aboubakr’s paper. This is not the same as the outside of food packaging becoming infected as a result of respiratory droplets.

There is an alternative explanation for enteric symptoms, like diarrhea and stomach upset, exhibited by COVID-19 patients. According to mucosal immunologist Lisa Osborne viral infection of the lungs can be spread to the intestines via the bloodstream.

That being said, according to farm veterinarian Philip Chris, the main route of zoonotic disease transmission from animals to humans is feces.

In this video, Hamada Aboubakr, Lisa Osborne, and Philip Chris discuss the routes of transmission for SARS-CoV-2, enteric infection and zoonotic disease. 

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