Detection of SARS-CoV-2 on Surfaces in Food Retailers in Ontario

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A recent paper from Ontario, Canada discusses the findings from a study in which surfaces in retail stores were sampled for SARS-CoV-2 using PCR. Zero positive samples were found out of approximately 950 samples. Some highlights:

“Four zones within the store were selected, namely, the payment station, the deli counter, the refrigerated foods section, and the carts and baskets”

“Regardless of the store’s location, the sampling day or time, the location of the surface within the store or the surface material, all samples tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. These results suggest that the risk of exposure from contaminated high-touch surfaces within a food retailer store is low if preventive measures and recommended sanitizing routines are maintained.”

“All retail stores tested had in place similar protocols that complied with the provincial requirements (Ontario Ministry of Health, 2020) in terms of social distancing, sanitation, and exposure. All tested retailers also enforced the use of PPE among their patrons (e.g., masks were mandatory) and workers (e.g., masks were mandatory, face shields were available, but its use was voluntary, and gloves were mandatory in food preparation areas and voluntary in non-food preparation areas).”

Although it is difficult to do a direct comparison (due to possible differences in sanitizing protocols, climate, and other factors) Canada’s retail settings have been more focused on limiting patrons/mask enforcement compared to the U.S.

Read the full paper