May 21, 2020Client Alert

Please Consider the Source: Physicians Group Petitions USDA to Warn Consumers About SARS-CoV-2 on Meat and Poultry

It has been widely reported, including our previous alert, that there is a scientific consensus that COVID-19 cannot be contracted by humans from food or food packaging.

But in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, an organization called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has filed an Emergency Petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to require that slaughterhouses test meat and poultry for SARS-CoV-2 prior to making it available for sale. In addition, PCRM is asking USDA to require grocery stores to warn consumers of the potential presence of SARS-CoV-2 on meat and poultry products, using the warning label reproduced above. A copy of the petition can be found here.

The petition contends that thousands of slaughterhouse workers have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 since the beginning of the pandemic. Furthermore, “Because these workers, who may be asymptomatic viral carriers, directly handle meat and poultry products, and because SARS-CoV-2 is easily airborne, remaining detectable for 30 minutes or more in air samples, transmission of the virus to the products they handle is likely.”

However, some are skeptical of the merits of the petition and ask that the source be considered. PCRM ( is a non-profit that claims to have over 12,000 doctor members. According to its website, it promotes “preventative medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.” It should be noted, however, that the organization it highly critical of meat and poultry consumption, particularly if it is processed. PCRM also promotes a plant-based diet and alternatives to animal research.

We will follow PCRM’s petition and provide updates on its status as we learn of them.

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