Safe Foods Forum held last month

esseili_researchCFS Assistant Professor Malak Esseili researches the potential transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 through food. Photo by: Ashley Biles

By Jennifer Reynolds
Communication Professional for the Center for Food Safety

In early October, the Center for Food Safety held the second of its twice-yearly Safe Foods Forums. The event, which had over 60 participants, provided an opportunity for food safety professionals to network and discuss topics that are both timely and relevant to the food industry and public health.

A highlight of the forum was CFS Assistant Professor Malak Esseili’s presentation in which she gave a literature overview and an update on her research on SARS-CoV-2 and its potential transmissibility through food.

Her current findings indicate that in fresh berries, the virus is “markedly inactivated over time and can be largely removed by washing with water.” She went on to add that her research indicated different results with frozen berries.

“On frozen berries, SARS-CoV-2 survived for at least a month without any significant reductions in infectious titer. Further studies are needed to better understand whether the virus can potentially spread through frozen fruits due to its high stability on such commodities,” Esseili said.

Other topics covered included information on preventing outbreaks, updates on recent and ongoing outbreaks, CDC initiatives, and tools to determine the source of outbreaks such as food traceability and metagenomics.

The day following the forum, the CFS board of advisors met to discuss research grant proposals and initiate planning for the 2022 Annual Meeting tentatively for March 22-23.