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COVID-19 Food Safety

Posted in Food Safety,Our Blog on April 8, 2020

Unless you have been avoiding the news or living under a rock (I guess you wouldn’t have to social distance then), you have heard about the Coronavirus or COVID-19. Nothing is quite as scary as hearing about a virus that is spreading across the world at a rampant pace. Before your pulse quickens and you start to sweat, I am not here to make matters worse. On the contrary, I am here to release a little stress you may have; I know I had it. Let’s talk about the topic that many of us are worried about: COVID-19 Food Safety. Is our food safe?

In this time we have together, I wanted to share a little about what we are dealing with concerning this virus, some easy and safe tips to keep the virus at bay, and speak to the food safety aspect of the Coronavirus. I think at the end you will see (after you further your own understanding with a lot of research) you will see that even though things are tense; we can be more relaxed when it comes to the food we eat.

Breathe! COVID-19 Food Safety isn’t hard (You have been doing it all along).

Contrary to the hype in the media, Coronavirus has been around for quite some time. Yes, there are a few things we need to think about but it is important we get all the facts before we react.

Following is a list of what we do know about the Coronavirus:

  1. Coronavirus, like most, is transmitted by person to person contact and through the air at close range. If someone sneezes or coughs, the virus can spread if you are close by. By covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze you greatly increase the chance of spreading the virus.
  2. Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of the common cold: stuffy nose, watery eyes, coughing, fever, headache and body aches, and sore throat. If you are showing any signs of symptoms, please do not overreact. The only way to determine what is ailing you is to talk to your doctor and get a medical exam. If in the event you test positive, the doctor will give you instructions on what to do.
  3. The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to wash your hands and to avoid people. Don’t cough or sneeze on people. Avoiding touching your face with dirty hands also is a great way to keep safe. More on this in a minute.

Every day there are more and more government and local closings, workplaces sending people home, and a bombardment of information about what is happening around the country. It can be a little overwhelming at times. Just remember: panicking is the worst possible reaction you can have right now. You can still do something.

When it comes to food safety, there is a very low correlation between the Coronavirus and what we eat. The risk of contracting the virus is VERY LOW if you follow safe meal preparation practices nor can the virus be found in your food organically. That is not to say there are a couple of ways you could ingest the virus if it is on the food you eat; but those reasons put the virus on your food after the fact.

By following cooking directions, you have already ensured bacteria and viruses have been destroyed. We have been doing this all along! There are studies coming out every day that suggest warmer temperatures can stave off COVID-19. While this may be true, science has not yet had the opportunity to test this theory. Cooking or baking food does however; kill bacteria, viruses, parasites, and bacteria – so make sure you are cooking your food thoroughly. (But you already knew that!)

Restaurants and Take Out

If you fear contracting COVID-19 from a restaurant, I am happy to tell you the risk of contracting COVID-19 from food packaging and take low is very low. Again, the risk is VERY low. We have all been hoping to try that new recipe right? Well, now is the time. I am in no way saying you should avoid eating out. (I still am!) What I am saying is to use your own judgment, stay calm when making decisions, and use a level head when thinking about what to eat if and when you go out.

COVID-19 Food Safety and NO-NOs

Along with the influx of news reports and information there is also a lot of “tips” on how to keep from getting sick. Wading through them seems like a great way to end our talk here today. I want to focus on the ones that actually can help but there is a few that need to be addressed for the fallacies they are:

  1. DO NOT … let me repeat that … DO NOT under any circumstances, gargle bleach. It boggles the mind how someone would take this as a medical fact but trust me; there is nothing good that can come of this.
  2. Another false claim is that masks can prevent COVID-19 from infecting you. Yes, masks are a way to slow down a virus but unless it is a military grade gas mask, particles smaller than the eye can see are still going to find their way to you. It is best to use a mask as an aid, but not your only precautionary behavior.

Now for the most important tip of all. And if I have said this once I’ve said it a thousand times: wash your hands. It is really that simple.

We carry bacteria and viruses with us wherever we go. Those germs cannot reach inside our bodies unless we invite them in. Invite them in you ask? Ever rub your eye or lick your finger? How about scratch your nose? Transferring a virus from our hands to our eyes, mouth, and nose is how we become infected. So taking a few seconds a few times a day can greatly improve our chances of not getting sick. Here is what the CDC recommends:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water.
  • Lather your hands with soap.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air drying.

Did you catch that? Twenty seconds. Twenty seconds even twenty times a day is less time than it takes most of us to drink a cup of coffee. Sing “Happy Birthday” twice or the ABC’s. If you are a Scout, say the Scout law and Scout Oath. Say the chorus to “Never Gonna Give You Up” in your head. 20 seconds. This little/big tip will go a long way in making us germ free when the need to scratch our noses arises.

One Last Mention…

I’m not going to sugarcoat this: we could be in for a few months of panic and downright craziness. Those of us who have done the research (you have right?) and have the tools to keep ourselves clean have a better chance of coming through the other side of this.

By taking the time to remain calm, thinking about the best course of actions in our daily lives, remembering that preparing our food at home correctly is a low risk for catching COVID-19, and helping others remain calm is our best weapon. At the end of the day, it is your safety that we put first.

Stay safe. Eat healthy!

By: Dwight Spencer, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)