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Pasteurization Inactivates COVID-19

Research specific to COVID-19 is still emerging as the current outbreak evolves. While COVID-19 is anovel (new) virus and data is limited, characteristics of similar viruses such as SARS (Severe AcuteRespiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) are significantly relevant and applicable to milk banking.

On February 11, 2020, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) named this newlyidentified virus “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)”, now called “COVID-19” because of its genetic similarities to the SARS coronavirus responsible for the outbreak in 2003 (WorldHealth Organization [WHO], 2020). Existing SARS and MERS research provide valuable informationwhen evaluating virus transmission and inactivation.

Studies have documented complete heat inactivation of genetically similar viruses such as SARS andMERS, specifically heat treatment of 60°C for 30 minutes (Miriam & Taylor, 2006; Rabenau et al., 2005;van Doremalen, 2014). 

According to Jamie Jonker, National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) vice president of Sustainability and Scientific Affairs pasteurization of dairy products inactivates COVID-19, so there is no danger than consumers can contract the disease while consuming dairy products.

“All pasteurized dairy products, whether it is milk in the jug, cheese in the cheese case, butter or ice cream, are safe to eat,” says Jonker. “But for health reasons unrelated to COVID-19 virus, a person should never drink raw milk.”

Jonker explains that the Food and Drug Administration has confirmed the pasteurization process, whether it is at high temperature for a short time or a slightly lower temperature for a longer period, inactivates the COVID-19 virus.

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