The research, conducted by the University of Southampton, was commissioned by the FSA following the publication of its risk assessment in 2020 which concluded it was very unlikely that humans could catch the virus from food. The study involved deliberately adding virus to the surface of food and packaging. It was not designed to consider the probability that food becomes contaminated under normal conditions, or the probability that virus on food will lead to infection.

The study’s results shows that the virus’s survival varied depending on the foods and food packaging examined. On some foods, such as cheese and ham, the virus survived for several days. On others, such as apples and olives, virus levels dropped quickly. For most food products tested there was a ‘significant drop’ in the levels of virus contamination over the first 24 hours. These findings confirm that the overall risk to consumers from coronavirus via food remains very low.

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