Due to Covid pandemic, food safety has gained even more importance. With World food safety day on June 7, here are some tips to ensure food safety.
Ensuring food safety is a public health priority and an important measure to achieve food security, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although, this virus is not a foodborne illness, it can be caused by 'food unsafety', as it leads to major loss of life and health, as well as disturbance in the production, trade and distribution of food to the extent food security is affected in many countries. According to WHO, there is no evidence till now that food is a way or route of transmission for the COVID-19 illness. The presence of living virus particles on food is unlikely as the virus cannot multiply on foods. However, it is important to maintain proper hygienic conditions around you and that includes taking certain steps for food safety.
Food Safety Day is celebrated on 7 June, every year, to make people aware about measures to prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, and to remind about the importance of food safety. During this Covid pandemic, it has become even more important to keep your food safe, away from germs and bacteria. With world food safety day 2021 around the corner, Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Anjali Phatak, Director Nutripulse and Senior Clinical Nutritionist, Nutripulse, about the importance of food safety in pandemic and tips to ensure it.
Tips to ensure food safety
Food safety, nutrition and food security are deeply connected to each other. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, mostly affecting babies, young children, elderly and the sick. It is also important to follow all the government guidelines regarding protection from this deadly virus. According to Dr. Anjali, here are some useful tips to ensure food safety, especially during the pandemic:
1. Buy food products from authentic and clean places. Do not purchase any foods from unhygienic areas, especially during the pandemic. The purchasing source should be proper and authentic.
2. Clean the vegetables and fruits with normal tap water in their raw condition. Moreover, buy the fruits and vegetables carefully and try getting the rawest foods possible. After coming home, clean it with a cotton and place in the fridge.
3. Before handling foods from the market, it is also important to maintain hand hygiene. Clean and sanitize your hands properly before keeping foods in the kitchen.
4. While cooking, wash them again in a little warm water before cooking. Cross contamination is also important, particularly with non vegetarian food items.
5. Cooking raw food properlyafter removing the non edible outer covering is also an essential part of food safety.
6. Eat the food immediately after cooking and do not just keep it cooked for longer periods. Even according to the Covid guidelines, individuals should not consume stale food and cook only the quantity that will be consumed. Do not reheat and have your food as it can also reduce the effectiveness of vitamin and minerals.
7. If you are storing, then it should be done below 5 degrees and hot in about 60 degrees Celsius. Keep washing your hands while cooking food and maintain hygiene in kitchen premises. You also have to keep the utensils clean and sun-dried.
Importance of food safety during pandemic
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that food borne diseases affect people of all ages worldwide. It is more common in children under 5 years of age and people living in low-income countries. A healthy and safe food supply is also an important part of good health and nutrition, in response to COVID-19. The most recent and updated scientific evidence implies that SARS-CoV-2, which causes coronavirus disease is not transmissible through food but is transmissible between people who are in close contact with each other.
As per researches, it was found that SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads when people infected with the virus release droplets while coughing or sneezing, and more recent researches show that the virus can also be transmitted when infected people, be it symptomatic or asymptomatic, speak or breathe. The world's food supply is hence at risk, not by food contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 but by the transmission of the virus in the workers in different locations and places where the food is produced, processed, packaged, and sold.
4 C's for food safety
According to Dr. Anjali, everyone should follow the 4 C's of food safety. While preparing food, make sure that you clean, don't cross contaminate, cook, and chill the food. Wash your hands, preparation areas and cooking utensils regularly. Start cooking with clean hands and utensils. Make sure to wash your hands after you touch any kind of raw meat.