Corona Home Office: Everything You Need to Know About Food Safety Now
Cracked-skinned hands are typing this blog entry and you’ll likely scroll through it with equally cracked skin. Dry hands are one of the lesser evils we have to endure in the Corona crisis. Still, it would be optimal if we’d avoid making it any worse by washing even more things. But does it stop with hands?
Shouldn’t we also wash the things we buy at the supermarket to make sure? And if we are lucky enough to get an exclusive bag of pasta, should we wipe it down with disinfectant?
And speaking of food, how safe is it to get something delivered? Are the measures taken to ensure the minimization of the virus-spreading sufficient? All these questions!
We at Smunch definitely are no virologists (even if we listen to Dr. Drosten and Prof. Peter Piot) but as an Online Canteen we still want to help clarifying questions around hygiene and food safety. After all, it’s on us all to spread knowledge rather than fear.
So here's what we'll look at in this blog post:
- At the supermarket: How clean is fresh produce?
- At the supermarket: Should I clean all the packaging?
- Gastronomy: How are they approaching the problem?
- Restaurant: How safe is take-away food?
- Delivery service: Can I order without concerns?
Let's have a look!
Supermarket: Fresh Produce
Avocado, pears, cucumber, mango. These four and others like them have one thing in common: everyone likes touching them to make sure they’re ripe. The pandemic rather quickly taught us to change that behaviour. I personally was about to check some mangoes yesterday, but refrained once someone started yelling at the woman next to me, doing exactly that. “Why don’t you spread even more germs on fruit while you’re at it?” he said. Tensions are high these days, for good reason.
But is that fear even founded? How dangerous is it to touch procuts with bare hands these days? The Bund für Risikobewertung has answers to all virus and food safety related issues.
To get SARS-CoV-2 through food, a sick person would have to cough or sneeze into their hands, touch a product that then gets picked up immediately by another person. Enough of the virus from the surface would then have to reach your mucous membrane. While no known case has been reported as infected via this transmission path, washing produce with clear water is recommended. And washing your hands before preparing food is another given.
It’s generally not recommended to wash produce with soap as residue can be damaging. Clear water before using is always advised, pandemic or not.
Now, it isn’t as easy to wash plastic or paper packaging of flour or similar dry good with water. Should you wipe it down instead? Or should you use it and then immediately wash your cracked hands every time you use something?
Here, a research on trustworthy sites like the aforementioned BrF or the FDA can be helpful. The consensus so far is that the stability of the virus is low, even if it can survive on surfaces for some time. Nonetheless, the FDA doesn’t necessarily advice to clean every packaging, but rather to abide by hygienical guidelines and to refrain from touching your face.
If you also cook the food and wash your hands before eating, the risk should be very minimal.
Restaurants: Adjusting to Corona
Generally, the gastronomy should be the safest and exemplary when it comes to hygiene. Corona-crisis or not, they should have the best conditions to keep their food and environment safe for customers ideally. And yet, the food sector has been affected badly by the crisis. They are only allowed to operate with strong limitations and even if opened, the customers usually stay at home.
That’s why it is more crucial to them to adjust to the pandemic by opening take-away and delivery options where there weren’t ones before.
How is the safety of the customers ensured now?
If you still are able to go outside, you might like to take walks now to catch some warm spring air. It’s nice to have a goal for that and to treat yourself with take-away. The food scene has adjusted to this demand while keeping safety up.
1,5 m distance is a number that by now likely has been indoctrinated into us all. For all those that still need help abiding by it, some shop owners have put marks on the floor outside their store, so people lining up will be safer. Others printed inventive signs to kindly remind people of the 1,5 m distance rule.
The windows now are repurposed as a counter and made prettier to catch the attention of people walking by. And also, the payment is almost always contactless and they ask for digital transfer of tips rather than collecting it in jars.
For the people in self- and mandatory quarantine, the delivery options are a blessing. Though of course you don't need a good reason to just treat yourself to delivery. How has the delivery system adjusted after the crisis?
Since Smunch is a delivery service itself, we know firsthand, as we started taking measurements early. Delivery, no matter if it’s food or packages, now shouldn’t pose a risk to deliverer or customer, so distance is key. That’s why we only deliver our food to the entrance of office buildings and your pizza box is put in front of your door. Then the delivery person usually waits for the goods to be picked up and leaves. The payment is handled digitally beforehand, making it even more risk free.
For both takeaway and delivery, the same advice is given as how to handle the containers and packing as for supermarket goods. Taking the food out of the containers and eat it from plates not only makes it more appealing but if you also wash your hands right after, the risk of infection through delivery should be minimized.
If you have more questions related to food we would advise you to detailed information at the BrF or the FDA .
We hope you can enjoy your food with an eased mind now,
Your Smunch Team