Do you ever think whether or not the food you’re having is SAFE? This is one question that needs to be thought well before eating any kind of food. Food safety in common means the overall process that compromises of different processes like food handling, storage, and preparation of food with an objective to prevent food borne illness. Theoretically, we assume that food borne illness are 100% preventable but in real practice, it is not so. This is because in the food supply chain there are different problems while handling, storing and preparing food where pathogens get introduced in the food contributing to food borne illness.
There isn’t any evidence to support that people catch COVID-19 from foods including fruits and vegetables, but proper safety is required as fruits and vegetables should be regularly consumed as a part of nutritious diet. One needs to clean his/her hands thoroughly with soap and water before cleaning fruits and vegetables. Virus causing COVID-19 can be killed at temperatures similar to that of other known viruses and bacteria found in food. Other kinds of foods like meat, poultry and eggs should always be thoroughly cooked to at least 70°C. This ensures effective killing of bacteria and viruses present in foods. We should consume a variety of foods for a healthy and balanced diet, including whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and animal source foods. Vitamin C rich foods like citrus fruit, such as oranges and orange juice peppers, strawberries, Blackcurrants, broccoli, etc. help to boost our immunity. There are myths like ginger, pepper, etc. help to protect a person from COVID-19, which is not based on evidence. But, we can say that they help to boost one’s immunity.
According to data, 1 in 10 people fall ill after eating contaminated food worldwide and 420 000 people die every year due to eating contaminated food globally, of which 125 000 are children under 5 years of age. Unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases; ranging from diarrhea to cancers. Everyone can get food borne diseases but those who are more likely to get sick have serious illness. Food safety, nutrition and food security are inextricably linked. Unsafe food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, elderly and the sick.
CDC suggests 4 steps for food safety.
- Clean: Washing our hands and the surfaces frequently
- Separate: Using separate cutting boards, plates, etc. for different foods to prevent cross contamination
- Cook: Cooking foods up to the right temperature
- Chill: Refrigerating promptly since bacteria causing food poisoning multiply quickest between 40oF and 140oF
World Food Safety Day (WFSD) is also celebrated every year on 7th June since 2018 in order to inspire the actions to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agriculture, market access, tourism and sustainable development. The theme of this year was ‘Safe Food Today For a Healthy Tomorrow’ which stressed that safe food now will have immediate as well as long term benefits. In these dire times amid COVID-19 Pandemic, let us also try ensuring food safety as far as possible and practicable. We are what we eat, so let’s try having healthy and nutritious food so that we can excel in our lives.
Source: WHO, CDC, Foodsafety.gov, Wikipedia