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Watch, wipe, and wash before you cook

Staying healthy during COVID-19 

COVID-19 has been around for weeks and from the daily reports released by the Ministry of Health, it is expected to last for months.

On April 6, the decision was made to close all fast food outlets until April 30. Since then, our inner chefs have emerged and cooking daily has become a full-time job. I can personally attest to this.

On social media, fast food lovers continue to post images of their attempts to recreate their favourite meals like doubles and fried chicken.

In order to create any meal, we first need the ingredients. By now, it’s no secret that you can spend a significant amount of time just lining up to enter the supermarket.

Once you have successfully socially distanced your way into the grocery or market, cashed and returned home there are many precautions you need to take. There are presently no studies of food packaging being associated with COVID-19, however, it is very possible to become infected by touching a surface or object contaminated by the virus and then touching your face.

The higher risk though, comes from being in close contact with other people while actually food shopping, hence, ensure you sanitise your hands or even take a shower on arrival home.

When packing out your ingredients, ensure you remove any unnecessary packaging (bags, trays etc.) and dispose into a bin with a lid. Food items which are purchased in tins and containers should be wiped clean with a disinfectant before being opened or stored.

Fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables, should be washed thoroughly under clean, cold running water. DO NOT use any soaps, chemicals, or sprays to sanitise your produce.

Many fruits and vegetables are porous, which means that it is easy for something you apply on the outside to seep to the inside. If consumed, soaps, even gentle ones, can cause stomach distress.

As for produce sprays and rinses, there is no evidence that these are more effective than water in cleaning your produce and little research has been done in their clinical safety. Ensure you wash your hands with soap after the packing of the groceries and before you start any food preparations. Routine food hygiene tips include cleaning your counter tops before and after cooking, using separate chopping boards to prepare uncooked meat and fish, cooking food to their recommended temperatures, refrigerating perishables and using clean utensils and plates.

One very important tip I want to highlight is to CHECK THE EXPIRATION DATES on items before your purchase them or use them at home. In the midst of hasty shopping, there can be items on shelves that may have been sitting past their expirations and now that panic buying is occurring, you can be the unlucky consumer to accidently pick it up and put it into your cart. Imagine the frustration of waiting an hour to enter the grocery and then having to return to exchange your expired product.

Remember that COVID-19 will not last forever, we will eventually return to some level of normalcy. In the interim, we must stay positive and pray every day, keep your fruit and vegetable intake high, lessen your fatty and fried foods (even though it will be very tempting), encourage your family to use healthy snacks rather than processed ones and try to engage your family in an exercise routine, if not every day, a few days for the week. Stay safe and healthy!

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