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USDA earmarks $1 million to study COVID-19 in US beef supply chain

28 September 2020

The US Department of Agriculture is funding a $1 million research project to identify how the SARS-CoV-2 virus might be transmitted in the nation’s beef supply chain.

Reuters reports that the study will track the supply chain from farm to table and will begin in October.

The project, led by Texas A&M University, aims to reduce the risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus for consumers and people who work in the meat industry.

The grant is part of a broader effort by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which has recently awarded about $13 million across 17 projects studying the impact of COVID-19 on livestock, food safety, food processing and the American agricultural sector, an agency spokesperson said Friday 25 September.

USDA's Small Business Innovation Research Programme awarded another $1.3 million, divided between 14 grants.

While there is no evidence the virus spreads through food or food packaging, "that really doesn't mean that we shouldn't study this, just to make sure that we understand how the virus behaves throughout the distribution system," former NIFA Director J Scott Angle said on a USDA radio programme in May.

The research is ramping up as China - the world's top meat importer - halts food imports from companies if their products or packaging tested positive for the virus.

Thousands of meatpacking workers in North America and Brazil have contracted coronavirus.

Researchers will examine the impact of the virus on different stages of meat processing and packaging, and determine the virus's ability to survive on meat and packaging material during transportation and in retail areas, said Sapna Chitlapilly Dass, a Texas A&M meat science research assistant professor who leads the project, and working with USDA and the University of Pennsylvania.

Read more about this story here.

Source: Reuters


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