What Hygienic Measures Should We Use In Food Due To The Quarantine By Coronavirus
Coronavirus Tips The concern about a possible spread of COVID-19 by coronavirus in food is being more than evident among the population. Furthermore, the crowds in many Spanish supermarkets are not precisely helping to mitigate that negative thinking.
Many of the food products we buy are packaged and wrapped by different materials, such as cardboard, plastic or even aluminum. Many others, such as fresh vegetables and fruits that are sold in bulk, do not have a container that protects them and are, in a certain way, more exposed to the supermarket environment.Therefore, it is important to know how we should clean and disinfect the food in the coronavirus quarantine situation after purchase, and under what exact conditions should we do it.
The global situation around the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve at every moment, which is why health recommendations are changing and may change over the days. Firstly, we must make it clear that, for the moment, there is no evidence that food is a route of transmission of the virus, as indicated by the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). This means that, in principle, it is not necessary that we follow extra hygiene guidelines to those that are already recommended regularly to consume food safely.
However, that does not mean that food cannot be a source of potential contagion in any way. In fact, the spread through the packaging also raises certain doubts, so we must maximize hygienic measures and be cautious when we introduce food into our home.
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Given this global quarantine situation that we are experiencing, it is important that we properly disinfect all surfaces in the home, being especially careful in the kitchen and its furniture. Also, of course, we must maintain the usual recommendations regarding food hygiene. Not exclusively due to the coronavirus, but to prevent any type of food poisoning. For example, cooking meat, fish and eggs completely, keeping cooked foods separated from raw foods at all times and disinfecting vegetables and vegetables that are going to be eaten raw with bleach suitable for food use.
Failing that, and if we do not have this cleaning product, we can immerse vegetables for 5 minutes in drinking water with 1 teaspoon of bleach dessert (4.5 ml) for every 3 liters of water as long as it is labeled “suitable for the disinfection of drinking water ”, as recommended by AESAN on its official website. Afterwards, it is important to rinse these foods with plenty of running water to obtain a totally safe product.
On the other hand, monitoring critical aspects such as cross contamination or proper storage in the refrigerator can help us greatly to minimize the possible risks of food poisoning. It is important that we refrigerate those products that may exude (such as fresh meat and fish) on the lower shelves, and that we prioritize on the shelves located on the door those foods that need less cold, such as canned drinks, jams and sauces.
In addition to all the previously mentioned measures, hand washing is undoubtedly crucial in this historic moment that we are experiencing to slow down the advance of the coronavirus. Both before and after handling food, we must wash our hands properly with soap and water. For this, we can follow the WHO recommendations for the correct hand washing for approximately 40-60 seconds and that we show you in the following infographic:
Unfortunately, it should be noted that we do not yet have conclusive data regarding the survival of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus on surfaces and materials. In fact, there are not even validated scientific studies, so we can only find answers and clues in some research that is still pending review.
This is the case of a study where the first data on the survival time of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in some materials are noted: up to 3 hours in aerosols, up to 4 hours in copper (for example, coins) and up to 24 hours on cardboard. On the other hand, we also have some data that suggest that this new coronavirus could resist up to 6 hours and even 2 and 3 days in plastic (some food packaging) and stainless steel (for example, cutlery), between 13 hours and 2 or 3 days as a time interval.
All these data only refer to the fact that the virus could resist this amount of time in these materials, but we do not know if with a sufficient load to cause COVID-19 disease in humans. Given the lack of conclusive data, we must be guided by the principles of prevention in order not to spread the virus further, trying to disinfect any surface or material that is likely to come into contact with it.
We must be clear that the route of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is respiratory, mainly from person to person through small droplets of saliva and secretions from the nose.
As we have previously explained, there is no evidence that this virus is transmitted through food, so we should not panic and start disinfecting any product purchased from the supermarket left and right. The current priorities must be different: to prevent contagion between people by keeping the safety distance of 1 meter —or more, if possible— in the queues at the supermarket.
We do not have conclusive data on the permanence of the virus in specific materials, so we must sanitize food following the same recommendations as always. This can be extrapolated to shopping bags and other types of materials, being especially relevant in homes where people belonging to risk groups are found.
Let’s not forget to prioritize hand washing and proper cleaning and disinfection of utensils and materials in direct contact with people who are already infected with COVID-19.
If there is a positive situation for COVID-19, or if there are suspicions of contagion in the home, measures must be taken to avoid further cases of COVID-19 in our home, especially if we live with people belonging to groups risk: with respiratory problems, the elderly and immunosuppressed.
The most urgent measure is to isolate this person in a well-ventilated individual room with a separate toilet where they can wash their hands frequently, if possible, in addition to giving it the usual use for which it is intended.
Along with these general hygienic measures, it is advisable to exercise extreme caution with the utensils used during meals. We must wash each and every object that may have come into contact with the infected person independently with soap and water. If our kitchen is not too big, we can clean in different shifts to avoid cross contamination at all times between objects that have come into contact with the sick family member and those that have not.