Probably the most important question on our minds during this time of self quarantine, other than, ‘what to do?’ is, ‘what to eat?’, followed by ‘how?’.

In previous articles we clarified that Coronavirus is not transmitted via food, as long as the food is cooked and handled properly

It is a great time to support your local businesses such as the near by Kirana (grocery) store, fresh fruit and vegetable sellers around the corner and neighbourhood restaurants. This will limit your exposure to crowds and help small businesses survive this difficult time.   

Order Online

Since India started heeding the warnings by World Health Organisations and started taking precautions and ordering people to observe social distancing by staying at home and avoiding public areas such as malls and market, the online orders for groceries almost doubled overnight.

Order food online consciously.

In a pandemic like situation where we are dealing with something we know virtually nothing about, it is not just a question of getting food delivered but how it is being delivered. Whether necessary safety precautions are being observed by the companies and their employees to stop the spread of Coronavirus. 

In such a situation big retailers such as Future Group (the parent company of Big Bazaar), Grofers, Natures Basket, Amazon Pantry and Prime Now have all stated that they have adopted precaution practices to ensure safe delivery of necessary items.

Deliveries are allowed in some states in India

Online food delivery apps such as, Zomato was working on implementation of giving the option of contactless delivery, where the delivery boy would drop off the parcel at a designated place for the customers to collect it from. This would prohibit human to human interaction and prevent contraction of the virus.

Buying Groceries Locally

You can either order groceries and daily necessities online or ask your local grocer to deliver the items to your doorstep. Not many local grocers or fresh produce sellers would be equipped or have the manpower to make deliveries in person. In such cases you can call and order what you need in advance and arrange to pick it up yourself, limiting your exposure and obeying the social distancing norms. 

Buy veggies and groceries locally..

Presently in Mumbai, Maharashtra, pharmacists are make-shifting a barricade with bamboos outside their shops, the customers remain 5 to 6 feet away throughout the purchasing process. In many other cities throughout the state, fresh produce vendors are drawing markers on the ground at regular intervals to avoid over crowding and systematic supply of provisions for all.

The Delhi State government has decided to keep businesses providing essential services such as grocery shops to remain open for 24×7. The state authorities have also allowed online service providers to deliver the necessary commodities throughout the 21 day lockdown. 

Avoid hoarding grains and other daily staples

Similarly, in Gurugram, Haryana the local authorities are allowing delivery boys to make deliveries across the city for food, medicines and groceries. While Karnataka state authorities have decided to keep supermarkets and food markets open during the lockdown for its citizens. 

DO NOT PANIC and start hoarding vegetables and staples, the government is going to make provisions with small and big businesses to make sure the daily necessities and medical items are available at all times during the lockdown. 

When and if deliveries resume in your city, please do ensure to take necessary precautions. The online service providers are already ensuring every safety standard compliance to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. 

In the absence of any clarity from your local authorities on meal deliveries by online cooked meal delivery service providers, it is smart to prepare your own food from the comfort of your home.

Stay home and become a pro at cooking in no time

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It is very important to be cautious in times of a pandemic, not just to take care of ourselves but to also be considerate of those around us. This is becoming very true for the health and service industry that are functioning on an overdrive at the moment. It would be prudent to prepare your own meals at home as much as possible to help relieve the dependency on the food industry.

Where food is concerned the characteristic of temperature is two fold, one where it is weather related and the other where we induce it to prepare our meals. 

Effects of Weather

So far, the jury is out on the verdict of whether Coronavirus will subside on its own as its predecessor SARS did when the weather becomes warmer. This is due to the fact that this virus very new and there is not much data to study it and establish how this particular virus will behave in hot weather.

Initial examination of a laboratory-grown copy of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) shows that it is very sensitive to temperature, and that it may not survive in warmer climates. But the increasing number of cases in South East Asian Countries is already refuting the data that hotter climate may  impede the spread of the virus altogether.

In 2003 the WHO reported that the SARS Coronavirus is killed at a temperature of 56°C, at around 10000 units per 15 min. The data we have so far is on SARS, however the same cannot be said for the Coronavirus, although they belong to the same family of viruses. There just isn’t enough information about the Coronavirus to definitively predict its behaviour. This is clearly a wait and watch scenario where hot weather is concerned. 

Effects of Heat

Notwithstanding the above, there is no evidence of Coronavirus surviving in cooked meals. Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, clarifies that there is a very small chance of contracting the virus through cooked meals. Although he also mentions that if the meal got contaminated post cooking then the chances of contracting go up drastically, for eg., if the cook, server or delivery agent, us included, do not take the necessary precaution or handle the food properly then the possibility of contracting the virus goes up drastically.  

It is imperative to know how to handle the food not just for yourself but for others as well.

What can we do?

Guess what, we already know what to do, the ‘Environment Studies’ module taught in primary school prepared us for just such an eventuality;

Cook your meals on flame or induction at high temperatures, making sure to expose every element of the dish to heat while preparing.

  • Thoroughly wash the produce before cooking.
  • Maintain a clean kitchen and dining area, by cleaning the surfaces with an alcohol disinfectant such as Dettol.
  • Cook your meals on flame or induction at high temperatures, making sure to expose every element of the dish to heat while preparing.
  • It is important to have warm if not hot meals, avoid salads or cold meals when you can.
  • Handle your own meals, plates, cutlery etc.
  • If you are getting food delivered to you, then make sure to remove the food from the delivery containers into clean home utensils, followed by safely disinfecting and discarding the container.
  • Furthermore, heat the delivered food up either in the microwave or on the stove before consuming it.

Following simple time tested instructions may just help us get ahead of this pandemic.

For more information please visit the World Health Organisation, (WHO) website for more detailed clarification. 

The research in this article is supported by notable websites of repute and International regulatory bodies.

Stay informed and stay safe.

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These are trying times for everyone, Coronavirus or COVID-19 has been declared the first Pandemic in 11 years by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week. Since then governments the world over have taken strict measures to curtail the spread of this novel Coronavirus. International trade between affected countries has all but stopped, citizens are being asked to voluntarily isolate themselves for 15 days by staying at home. In times like these the prevalent question of food hangs high above our heads in the fashion of a big neon ‘Question mark’ sign.

We have done some preliminary research into the question and have some much needed answers for you.  

The first question that would cross your mind is whether Coronavirus or COVID-19 is transmitted via food? 
Food and Coronavirus COVID-19

No, so far there has been no indication that the COVID-19 virus is transferable via food. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which is headquartered at Northern Italy, one of the worst affected countries outside of China, have confirmed that the virus does not transmit over food. 

The spread of the virus is attributed mainly due to human proximity, where a healthy person may come in contact with the droplets left behind by a person, either sneezing, coughing or exhaling, infected with Coronavirus or COVID-19.

Hot food prepared freshly and promptly runs a low risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus. Whereas cold food or food consumed at room temperature where a person suffering from Coronavirus is present may increase the chances of contamination. 

Hot food prepared freshly and promptly runs a low risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus

It is important to limit ones movements socially to deter the spread of the virus to those whose immune systems are already compromised, such as elderly individuals, children or people suffering from chronic and respiratory illnesses. 

For more information please visit the World Health Organisation, (WHO) website.

The research in this article is supported by notable websites of repute and International regulatory bodies. 

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