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Food Safety in the face of COVID-19

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that usually cause respiratory illness. They include viruses that cause the common cold and more serious illnesses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

On Thursday, March 12, Trinidad and Tobago confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and just a day later, the country confirmed the second case. Various health protocols have been implemented which include the closure of all schools, pandemic leave and social distancing.

It is most important to remember to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face since COVID-19 can enter our body through our eyes, nose and our mouth. Naturally, this raises some concerns about our food.

Previous experience with outbreaks like MERS, SARS and other respiratory viruses suggest that COVID-19 may have been transmitted from animals to humans.

We must note that transmission through food is unlikely and there is no evidence of this occurring with the COVID-19 to date. The European Food Safety Authority has released a statement suggesting there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission.

Nevertheless, we still need to take certain precautions when handling our food. Everyone should practise good hygiene when preparing and handling food. The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued precautionary recommendations including advice on good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation. These include:


1. Washing hands between handling raw and cooked foods

2. Thorough cooking and proper handling of meat products

3. Keeping your kitchen clean by regularly disinfecting the surfaces of your kitchen

4. Cooking food to the proper temperature

5. Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing

6. Avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing

Good hygiene and sanitation are important to avoid cross-contamination between raw or undercooked foods and cooked or ready-to-eat foods in the kitchen.

As an added precaution, if you have suspected symptoms of respiratory illness you should avoid preparing food for other people and seek medical attention.

Let’s all try to be as safe and practise social distancing as best as we can and proceed with all the precautions as we combat this pandemic.


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