Healthcare authorities are seizing thousand of boxes ice cream after coronavirus was detected in samples of products in north China. People believed to have come into contact with the products, produced by Tianjin Daqiaodao Food Company, are now being tracked by authorities in the northern Tianjin municipality, according to reports.
So far authorities have succeeded in confiscating some thousand batches of the product but it is believed that another few thousand boxes are in circulation, according to a Sky News report. Dr. Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds in the UK, told the outlet an infected person most likely contaminated the batches.
Hidden Inside Ice Cream
According to reports, three samples of locally produced ice cream were found to be contaminated in the Tianjin municipality, in the north east of the country on Saturday. The ice cream was produced by the Tianjin Daqiaodao Food Company, where 1,662 employees were tested Thursday, and were quarantining. Of them, 700 have already tested negative for Covid-19 while results for the remaining 962 employees remain to be confirmed.
Healthcare authorities are scrambling to trace people who have come in contact with the batches who are at the risk of infection. At the same time, they are also trying to confiscate the batches. However, so far they have managed to confiscate only 2,089 boxes. Each box contains around 450 grams of ice cream.
Officials believe that 4,836 boxes of the ice cream may have been contaminated, more than half of which had already been distributed for sale by the test results came back on Saturday. Griffin told Sky News that in all likelihood the boxes got contaminated from an infected person working in the factory.
"Of course, any level of contamination is not acceptable and always a cause for concern, but the chances are that this is the result of an issue with the production plant and potentially down to hygiene at the factory," he said.
At High Risk
Authorizes at Tianjin municipality have said that anyone having ice cream in the province in the past two days is at high risk given that all the boxes haven't been traced yet. Moreover, many of the boxes are believed to have been already consumed. "That the ice cream is made with fat and is stored at cold temperatures would make it easy for the virus to have survived," Griffin said.
Epidemiological investigations conducted so far indicate the company produced the batch of ice cream using raw materials, including milk powder imported from New Zealand and whey powder imported from Ukraine. It is yet unknown if authorities in New Zealand and Ukraine have been informed about the contamination.
Meanwhile, Tianjin officials have taken measures to disinfect the production plant and instructed local residents who may have bought the ice cream to report to the relevant medical bodies in their communities.