Norway denies seafood link to new COVID-19 infections in China
By Nestor Arellano
The Norwegian Seafood Council was quick to issue a statement today distancing the country’s seafood supply from reports of a new wave of COVID-19 infections in China. Imported salmon were taken off shelves in super markets in major Chinese cities and local experts had warned people against eating the fish following a new outbreak of the virus traced to a market in Xinfadi, which had infected 100 people.
“There are no official statements connecting these incidents with neither seafood nor salmon. The origins of this outbreak are still unclear,” the NSC said in a statement today. “The coronavirus does not affect seafood safety. There are no known cases of infection via contaminated food, imported food or water, and Norwegian Food Safety Authorities states seafood products from Norway are safe to eat.”
Atlantic salmon represents 93 percent of the total Norwegian aquaculture production, according to 2016 statistics. Norway is the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon. The country ships more than 1.233 million metric tons of salmon each year.
Earlier, China had stopped importing salmon from a number of countries following reports that traces of the COVID-19 virus were detected on chopping boards used by sellers of imported salmon.
The BNN Bloomberg news agency estimates that China imports about US$700 million worth of salmon. The sudden ban on salmon imports could jeopardize major salmon exporters to the country which includes Denmark, Norway and Australia.
Salmon has been taken off the shelves in supermarkets and grocery delivery platforms across major Chinese cities, while top experts are warning people not to consume the omega-3 rich seafood.
Shi Guoqing, deputy director of China’s Emergency Center of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, later spoke at a press conference and clarified that COVID-19 was not found on salmon products.
“We currently have no evidence to suggest that salmon is the host or intermediate host of the coronavirus. In the contaminated area of Xinfadi Market related to this new outbreak, there is indeed salmon product found to be contaminated in the coronavirus test,” Guoqing told the news agency ChinaNews.com. “But no virus has been detected on the salmon product that has not yet entered the contaminated area.”
The NSC also pointed out that the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have issued detailed guidance on food safety, stating that there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.