Food safety and nutrition guidelines during pandemic situation of covid-19
The pandemic situation of a novel coronavirus in India disturbed the value chain of food and agriculture which left people in the position of limited or no food at their end. As there is a complete cure or treatment available for COVID-19. So, In this situation, prevention is the best way to save the lives of people. A number of preventive guidelines have been issued by the WHO and relevant Indian authorities in this regard such as wearing face masks, washing hands with sanitizer periodically, and maintaining social distancing essentially. Internationally, The FDA and WHO issued food safety guidelines for businesses to avoid any kind of spread risk of the novel coronavirus. In India, similar guidelines have been issued by FSSAI (Food Safety Standard Authority of India) for food businesses to prevent any kind of spread risk of the novel coronavirus. While such food safety guidelines have not been circulated in the public domain in the end consumers effectively due to a lack of awareness in India. So, it is the responsibility of every aware individual to tell their contacts about the hygiene and food safety guidelines while purchasing fruits, and vegetables from the market and local street vendors. Similar precautions must also be maintained while purchasing packaged food products. It has been found in the investigation that the novel coronavirus can survive up to 72 hours on the surface of fruits and vegetables.
So, it may be another disease-spreading agent. Although, the government authorities are creating awareness among the people with their best efforts. In my opinion, the government should hand over these responsibilities to all government and non-government organizations and the concerned people to create awareness regarding food safety and hygiene near or around their vicinity. Also, the FSSAI also circulated the guidelines about healthy & nutritious foods, particularly for those who have home quarantines and are at risk of COVID-19.
Although, International statutory organizations have issued guidelines for food and nutrition for self-quarantined and risky people. The food safety standard authority of India (FSSAI, 2020) released guidelines regarding food hygiene & safety for food businesses. The FSSAI describes the guidelines for food businesses i.e. food employees, food handlers, etc. Three major safety guidelines were released.
Guidelines for food buyers
As the Indian markets are not well organized and sophisticated. There is a huge share of the Indian market that constitutes the unorganized sector. In India, consumers purchase food items such as packaged food products directly from grocery stores and fruits and vegetables from local street vendors, markets, etc. The sanitization and hygiene level is very poor in the whole market in India. So, the precaution must be taken at the consumer’s level to check the spread risk of COVID-19 through food items. The novel coronavirus may spread indirectly by touching groceries and shopping bags. Following guidelines have been suggested to use by consumers.
1 It is suggested to food employers provide single-use carry bags for food commodities to check the cross-contamination if any. Unfortunately, if the packaging material got the virus on its surfaces, it may spread the virus to individuals.
2 As the outer layer of the novel coronavirus is made up of fat/lipid, it is recommended to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer for consumers. This is because alcohol kills the novel coronavirus by solubilizing the outer lipid layer of the virus. The formulation of
sanitizer must be as per the WHO standard.
3 The raw fruits and vegetables should be rinsed with running tap water before removing any kind of dust particles, and pathogenic microbes including the COVID-19 virus to reduce the spread risk in individuals.
As no treatment remedy has been discovered till today. So, preventive measures are the only ways to check and reduce the risk of novel coronavirus. One of the preventive measures to check the infection risk is to improve or boost the immunity of the body. The immunity of the body can be increased by taking healthy foods that carry potent molecules such as antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other components. The WHO European Office for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases has developed the food and nutritional guidelines that should be followed by consumers during homestay or self-quarantine.