SARS-CoV-2 impact on meat production: A farm to plate approach.
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The goal of this cross-disciplinary project is to assess the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on meatproduction. The current pandemic has interrupted the meat industry, creating bottleneckseverywhere in the chain from farms to consumers, resulting in much smaller production outputs andhigher prices for all parties involved. Here, we will examine and mitigate these bottlenecksthroughout this chain, in order to maximize safety and minimize SARS-CoV-2 exposure toconsumers and the meat production workforce. Combining expertise in microbiology, animalsciences and biophysics, we will (1) investigate the susceptibility and transmission of SARS-CoV2in beef cattle, (2) compare and characterize the impact of SARS-CoV-2 on the different zones ofmeat processing and packaging plants (3) determine the survival of SARS-CoV-2 on meat andpackaging material during transportation and in retail conditions and, (4) develop a mathematicalmodel to predict the potential that food contamination with SARS-CoV-2 based on experimentalobservations. These objectives will be addressed experimentally using a combination of beef cattle susceptibility test, omics,microscopic and microfluidic techniques, supported by large-scale mathematical modelling. Theresult of the project will provide key information about the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, impacton beef consumers, and effect on personnel across the meat industry including farmers, processors,packers and retailers. We will generate white papers and educational videos based on our findingsand disseminate it to our stakeholders.