Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 contamination on food plant surfaces as determined by environmental monitoring

Covid-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2 corona virus, has disrupted life on earth, causing a pandemic that has resulted in millions of infections and deaths. During the early phase of the pandemic there were large scale outbreaks in food production plants. In March of 2020 we helped to implement infection control strategies in 116 food production plants that included environmental surface monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 contamination. Even though individuals who were symptomatic for Covid-19 were not allowed to work, we found that 1.23% of surface samples showed SARS-CoV-2 contamination.

Additionally, we found correlation between positive test results of environmental surfaces and plant personnel. Our findings indicate that environmental monitoring of high touch surfaces can help to identify the presence of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic personnel in workplaces and may aid in controlling infection spread. Please view our publication in Journal of Food Protection.