Seafood is safe, say authorities

Seafood is safe, say authorities

An official from Klong Toey District Office in Bangkok checks the temperature of a seafood vendor at Klong Toey market on Tuesday. The sign on her stall reads:
An official from Klong Toey District Office in Bangkok checks the temperature of a seafood vendor at Klong Toey market on Tuesday. The sign on her stall reads: "Shrimps came from Chachoengsao’s Bang Pakong district" to assure buyers of their safety in the wake of an outbreak in Samut Sakhon. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The Fisheries Department chief has assured consumers the novel coronavirus does not transmit in cold-blooded aquatic animals and strict sanitary measures are in place for fishing crews and food processing plants.

Department chief Meesak Pakdeekhong on Thursday said Covid-19 had not been found in cold-blooded aquatic animals which had no lungs and breathed through gills. Besides, their cell membrane is different from that of human beings, Thai media reported.

For these reasons, there was a very slim chance for the coronavirus to mutate and transmit to cells of aquatic animails, said Mr Meesak.

He added there had also been no reports of the animals being infected by Sars and MERs viruses, which were of the same family as Covid-19.

In any case, external contamination cannot be ruled out during handling processes.

Mr Meesak advised buyers to clean the animals thoroughly with protected hands and cook them well before eating. The recommended temperature is 56 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, or shorter if the temperature is higher.   

The remark, aimed at allaying fears among some consumers that eating seafood could infect them, came after the outbreak of Covid-19 at a shrimp market in Samut Sakhon province, which later spread to other provinces.

The department has enforced strict sanitary measures to make sure aquatic animal products were safe for consumption. It has also imposed sanitary rules for farmers, fishermen and food operators to follow.

The department is also working with other government agencies to monitor the situation to prevent the spread of the disease in the fisheries sector. 

Fishing crew and workers at all piers are screened and preventive measures are in place during food processing, he said.

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