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A sample of frozen chicken wings in China was found to be contaminated with the coronavirus, authorities said this week.
The chicken was imported to Shenzhen from Brazil, where there are currently more than 3 million cases of COVID-19 — the second-largest outbreak in the world, after the U.S. — and is the latest in a series of contaminated food products detected in the country. Earlier this week, officials reported that the virus had been found on the packaging of shrimp imported from Ecuador.
In recent months, Chinese authorities have increased screening of imported meat and seafood products. However, both the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that the possibility of catching the virus from food or packaging is low.
According to the CDC, “the risk of getting COVID-19 from food you cook yourself or from handling and consuming food from restaurants and takeout or drive-thru meals is thought to be very low.” In general, cooking kills the virus, and, according to the WHO, “there is no evidence to date of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses being transmitted via food or food packaging.”
Health experts say that while it’s possible that you could catch the virus from touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face, it’s not very likely. (And just because traces of the coronavirus was detected on a surface doesn’t mean it’s necessarily infectious.) Currently, experts believe that the main way the virus spreads is through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks — meaning that the biggest risk of catching the virus is from being in close contact with people who are sick, particularly indoors and without masks.
That said, it’s pretty much always a good idea to wash your hands, especially before eating or preparing food.