It is time that we maintain some social distance from casual kitchen manners. It is time to reflect on the association between food and COVID-19. Doubts around whether one is eating or cooking right or taking adequate safety measures against COVID-19, now rock the boat. According to the fake-news industry, we should stay away from non-vegetarian food given that the crisis emanated in Wuhan’s sea-food market.
But what are we supposed to do? What should be our course of action around food safety and healthy cooking during COVID-19?
Food as COVID-19 Carrier
“The hygiene of our meat and fish shops and slaughterhouses is very critical. Slaughtering meat products in India requires a lot of hygiene up-gradation,” says FSSAI CEO, Pawan Agarwal. At the press conference, he further adds that “FSSAI intended to leverage on the awareness in the country surrounding the Coronavirus to improve local meat and fish shop/market hygiene but categorically denied that COVID-19 had any impact on the local meat industry.”
In fact, we do not have reports on the novel coronavirus infecting persons through food. Research states that coronavirus is thermolabile–cannot sustain in normal cooking temperatures of 70 degrees celsius. In this case, thorough cooking surely kills the virus.
We can rest assured that major food safety bodies globally are investigating the association of food with the rapid transmission of the virus. They are using the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) for the probe.
How to Contain COVID-19 from Contaminating Food
As in the case of MERS or SARS disease, coronavirus is easy to contain through standard disinfection. It is advised that persons who are unwell either due to COVID-19 or influenza should not use the kitchen. An infected person may introduce the virus to surfaces and thus contaminate the kitchen.
Wash your Hands Better to Wipe off nCOV19
Yes. As guided by the CDC and WHO, one should wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Ref. Make sure that you thoroughly rub between your fingers and also clean fingertips. Either use disposable towels or frequently replace the towels you wipe your hands with.
Clean your Hands & Avoid the Gloves
Unlike using the face mask and washing our hands, wearing gloves isn’t recommended. While it is general hygiene to follow for cooking or handling food to avoid contamination, in the case of COVID-19, the material of the gloves is a concern. Gloves made of rubber or plastic is a surface that retains nCOV19 for a longer period. It is okay as long as the person in the kitchen is healthy and mindful of the best practices.
Brace your Diet with Immunity Boosters
Luke Coutinho, a lifestyle coach, says that while n-COV19 vaccine undergoes trial, it is advisable to keep a check on your immunity through immunity boosters. He advises eating ginger, spinach, yoghurt, almonds, turmeric, and citrus fruits can help one stay fit and maintain good immunity. He also asks to avoid smoking as it affects immunity as well as weakens your lungs.
Is the Food in the Open Contaminated by COVID-19:
There isn’t much information available about whether open food harbours coronavirus. However, studies on similar viruses indicate that some food surfaces do not let any virus survive while others do. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, one should maintain proper hygiene while handling all food items. In the current circumstances, limiting ordering and eating outside is the right thing to do. It is also better to eat freshly prepared hot food.
Ensure Food Safety through in-Kitchen Safety Practices
As you enter the kitchen, every moment is an opportunity to be extra cautious about containing COVID-19.
1.Ensure you wash the vegetables and meats before and after the cooking process
2. In the kitchen, you can continue wearing the mask if you wish. However, please use towels to cough and sneeze.
3. Sanitize surfaces before using them to cut vegetables/meat, cook, or serve the food.
4. Please use digital money through apps like PayTM, Google Pay, PayU, or any app of your choice. Currency notes are often the bearers of the virus
5. Avoid gathering in the kitchen and multiple hands at work
6. Keep your kitchen sufficiently ventilated
7. Don’t keep any food uncovered
8. Don’t risk eating stale food, food that has lost actual flavour, or tastes sour and slimy
9.Limit refrigerating food to essentials, otherwise, cook and consume immediately
10. Keeping washing your hands, we can’t stress enough!