September 28, 2020


USDA funds US$1 million research to identify how COVID-19 affects beef supply chain


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will fund a $1 million research project to study how COVID-19 coronavirus may be transmitted in the domestic beef supply chain, from US farm cattle to meat packaging, Reuters reported.


According to a USDA document describing the research effort led by Texas A&M University, the two year project beginning October aims to lower the exposure risk for consumers and people in the meat industry.


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


J. Scott Angle, former director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) said while there is no evidence that the virus can spread in food and its packaging, there should be a study on this matter to understand how the virus behaves in the supply chain.


The research is important as China has stopped imports from companies if their products or packaging are detected to have COVID-19 coronavirus traces.


Thousands of meat plant workers in the United States and Brazil have been infected with COVID-19, causing temporary plant closures and forcing companies to heighten biosecurity measures in these facilities.


The grant is part of the NIFA's efforts to study COVID-19's impact on livestock, food safety, food processing and the domestic agricultural sector. 17 projects have received grants of US$13 million in total. A further US$1.3 million was awarded by USDA's Small Business Innovation Research Programme, between 14 grants.


-      Reuters