Ice cream tubs found to be infected with COVID

With the coronavirus having paralyzed the entire world for nearly a year now, it's a nasty surprise to risk finding it even in your freezer.

Ice cream held with surgical gloves
© Getty Images
Ice cream held with surgical gloves

In north-eastern China, the coronavirus has reappeared—but in a slightly different way than one might expect. Because no one really expected to find the deadly virus in ice cream.

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The origins of Sars-CoV-2 are still not confirmed, although scientists have already made disturbing discoveries about it. And as if 93 million people around the world being infected with it wasn't enough, the virus has now been found in ice cream.

Three ice cream samples (chocolate, strawberry and taro) tested positive for traces of the coronavirus after undergoing a food inspection in the north-eastern Chinese municipality of Tianjin on Friday, according to a report in local Chinese media and relayed by HuffPost.

Contaminated ice cream

The samples come from the Tianjin Daqiaodao Food Company, which produces cakes, ice cream and other frozen products. The company was shut down immediately after the discovery: all goods already distributed from the company's warehouse have been traced and all 1,662 employees quarantined, according to the report.

Furthermore, 700 employees so far of the Tianjin Daqiaodao Food Company have received a negative COVID-19 test result—the remaining test results have yet to be announced.

The infected samples of milk and whey powder imported from New Zealand and Ukraine came from a batch of 4,836 cartons.

More than 2,700 of them are already circulating in the Chinese food market, while the rest are said to have remained in storage. Health officials are now urging locals to avoid buying the ice cream.

‘We probably don't need to panic’

It remains unclear how COVID-19 could have found its way into a batch of frozen dairy products, but University of Leeds virologist Dr Stephen Griffin tells Sky News that this startling turn of events is likely to be a ‘one-off’ and the virus may still have been present on the ice cream due to its cold storage temperature.

A 2010 study of the SARS coronavirus (which is related to COVID-19) showed that the 'infectious virus persists for up to 28 days at about 3 degrees Celsius’ and can survive for long periods at lower temperatures. Griffin comments:

Of course, any level of contamination is unacceptable and always a cause for concern, but there is a possibility that this is due to a problem with the production equipment and possibly hygiene in the factory. We probably don't need to panic about every piece of ice suddenly being contaminated with the coronavirus.
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