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;
- 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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