PepsiCo releases more details on coronavirus cases in Beijing
Published: Jun 22, 2020 08:47 PM


A PepsiCo branch in southern Beijing Photo: Li Hao/GT

Products made by PepsiCo's potato chips plant in Beijing that reported a cluster of coronavirus infections have been sealed off, the company told the Global Times on Monday.

The factory produces some of the Lay's canned chips, and is not involved with bagged products, the company said in a statement.

The statement comes after eight employees of the Beijing plant tested positive for the new coronavirus, which has led the company to suspend operations and triggered concern over safety of PepsiCo products.

Two of the eight infected workers had shopped at the Xinfadi wholesale food market where the latest Beijing outbreak first emerged.

After its first case was confirmed on June 15, the plant shut operations that day and the entire factory was disinfected and all stocks were sealed off, the statement said.

All employees at the plant have been quarantined since June 15 and received nucleic acid tests the following day. 

In response to food safety fears, the company said the factory in question is one of its seven in China which only produces some of Lay's canned chips and is not involved with its bagged products.

Food safety expert Ruan Guangfeng told the Global Times the possibility that the virus could survive in packaged products and infect the consumers is very low.

"Modern production of chips requires aseptic operations. Even if the diagnosed employee has the opportunity to touch the product, the virus can only fall on the outer packaging. The virus has a low chance of survival on food packaging," Ruan said.

In total 480 workers at the plant and their close contacts were quarantined. Their nucleic acid test results were all negative, the company said.

"All products manufactured and sold by our company not only meet the requirements of Chinese laws and regulations, but also comply with the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international authoritative health management agencies," said the company.