The deadly coronavirus infection has led to a consistent habit of handwashing, as the infection spreads through contaminated surfaces.
However, what about catching the infection unknowingly, through food? As of now, not many studies have been conducted on the matter yet, but food acts as a low-risk source of the infection. The COVID-19 virus primarily spreads through droplets suspended in the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread when someone touches one’s own face with contaminated hands.
It has not been ruled out that the virus lies on the top surface of the food, especially when the food item is brought in from a crowded place. However, what makes food an unlikely source of the virus transmission, is that people already take precautions against food-borne illness.
Hygienic practices such as washing hands, cleaning utensils, scrubbing packaged items are being followed much more vigorously than ever before. Moreover, when the food is cooked, it reaches a certain temperature at which the virus is highly unlikely to survive. Viruses cannot grow within food, but they can survive for some time. Some experts believe that even if a food contaminated with the virus is swallowed, this particular SARS-CoV-2, is unlikely to survive the acidic environment of the human stomach.
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According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are investigations being conducted to evaluate the viability and survival of SARS-CoV-2 in food and also the potential role of food in the transmission of the virus. As a general rule in the current circumstances, WHO suggests that the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw milk, raw meat or raw animal organs must be handled with a lot of care in order to avoid the cross contamination with uncooked food items. Some of the basic hygienic practices which must be followed with food are as follows:
* Thoroughly wash fresh fruits and vegetables
* Wash hands after handling packaged food
* Cook food for at least three minutes.