The coronavirus has conditioned our whole life. “When it comes to buying and cooking food, many questions come to us about the possibility that food and its handling, both in industry and in commerce and in our homes, are a source of transmission of the virus. Rest easy following our advice: you are not going to catch it by eating ». they assure from the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) .
These are the five questions elaborated by the OCU to clarify the role of food in the pandemic and that the entity responds following the recommendations of the Spanish and European authorities:
1) Can I get infected by touching food that I have bought in a supermarket?
So far there is no known contagion of coronavirus through ingested food. Food authorities such as the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and other organizations have ruled out that foods are transmitters of this virus. The route of entry into our body is more by aspiration than by ingestion, since the drops enter through the nose or are breathed through the mouth and go to the respiratory tract.
Now, it could be that food, both fresh and packaged, was the vehicle of the virus due to the drops that deposit on its surface. The virus can endure on paper or cardboard for 24 hours, while on plastic or metal it lives for several days at around 20 ºC (at lower temperatures, survival may be higher).
To avoid contagion, the most important thing is:
-Do not fiddle with food in the supermarket: you should look, without rummaging, and with your gloves on, pick up the pieces that we are taking.
Following hygiene measures similar to the general ones for when we touch other surfaces, such as door knobs, is enough. Record yourself on fire: wash your hands after touching any surface.
-For greater safety, food containers can be cleaned by wiping them with water with a few drops of bleach or a little alcohol. But, we insist, washing our hands after touching things that come from the street would be enough.
- Can food be contaminated in the factory where it is produced if the personnel are infected and do not know it?
-No, industrially processed foods are not likely to contain the virus. Even if some of the operators involved in its elaboration were unknowingly infected, the usual hygienic practices followed in food factories to avoid pathogenic microorganisms of all kinds (viruses, bacteria, molds) are equally effective in preventing contamination by coronaviruses. . Therefore, there is no need to be afraid of consuming already prepared foods. factories
- If the person who attends us at the butcher, greengrocer or fishmonger is infected and does not know it, could the food delivered be the transmitters of the disease? Should they avoid wearing a mask?
-In principle, there is no problem, you can safely consume meat, fish and fresh products in general that have been handled by the staff of the markets and supermarkets. The hygienic measures that serve for this virus are the same that must be followed to avoid other bacteria that could be found in raw meat, fish or vegetables, and also to combat pathogens that could come from handlers or contact surfaces, knives, boards, etc. Thus, the hygienic norms when dispatching food have not changed, since food can always be a vehicle of disease, but in this particular case it does not seem that they are.
Regarding the staff of supermarkets and food stores in general, there are no regulations, either past or recent, that oblige the use of gloves and masks, beyond the recommendations that these days are being given for the general population (in the food industry). On the contrary, gloves and masks are used regularly).
If we see that employees wear gloves and a mask, it can give us the impression that security is greater, but it is useless if they are not used well . Gloves should be washed frequently or use disinfectant gel; As dirt bothers the hands more, hand washing is more frequent than if they are gloved, therefore, gloves are not usually used to handle food in kitchens or markets. Actually, much more dangerous than handling food is contact with customers because the greatest risk of infection is from person to person.
- At home, do I have to take special cooking or food handling measures to prevent COVID-19 infection?
With the usual hygienic measures it is enough. The most important is:
-Avoid using the same table and the same knives when handling raw and cooked food to avoid cross contamination.
-Wash your hands when we touch raw food.
-Cook food well. If the virus has arrived, it will have been only at the surface and with 60 or 70 ºC it dies. For example, the inside of a fillet will not be contaminated by coronavirus, with normal cooking of the surface there is no major problem.
- Can you consume food prepared previously by a person who later learned that they were infected?
-If you have food at home prepared by a person who has tested positive or who has symptoms of COVID-19, do not throw it away. What you should do is heat it very well before eating it, it is not enough to warm it a little on the plate. The cold does not affect the virus much, but the heat does, so if you heat the food to 60 or 70 ºC you can be calm.
-In the case of fruits and vegetables that you have been able to touch and they are going to be eaten raw, it is better to wash them well with soap and water or water with a few drops of bleach.