It is considered that Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently, there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.
However, the importance of food safety is always a priority for businesses and restaurants. We have created this easy to read article on the truth about what you need to wash, how and when to protect your family, and tips to keep your food lasting longer between supermarket stock-ups.
COVID-19 and Transmission through Food
Earlier this month, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) put out a statement to address fears that food might be involved in coronavirus transmission. The EU food-safety watchdog said there is currently no evidence that this is likely. Even so, it’s crucial to follow food safety practices to keep your business — and your customers — safe.
According to EFSA, experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses show that transmission through food consumption did not occur. At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is any different in this respect.
It is currently believed that cooking food properly may kill the virus but what about frozen or chilled food, especially cold meats that we eat raw? Experts have warned against eating raw frozen foods like salmon after Coronavirus was found on chopping boards used to cut salmon for imports in a wholesale food market in China.
Coronaviruses, including COVID-19, need a host to grow and thrive. Therefore, they cannot spread through food or water. Also, there is no evidence that one can contract the virus after touching food packaging.
Wash Your Fresh Produce Before You Store It In The Fridge
It’s always a good idea to wash fresh fruit and veg before you eat it, particularly if you’re not cooking it first. The journey from the farm to your plate can be a long one and many people may have come into contact with your beloved fruit and veg.
The French food-safety agency recently issued advice that coronavirus is sensitive to heat treatment. Heat treatment at 63°C for four minutes can reduce any contamination of a food product by a factor of 10,000. So if in any doubt, either washing or cooking your food before eating it will kill the virus.
Should You Wash or Remove Packaging Before Storing in the Fridge or Freezer?
While removing packaging could be sensible as it might mean you can fit more food into your fridge or freezer, it is not a necessary step to take in order to avoid contracting COVID-19.
The UK Food Standards Agency said on 26 March 2020: It is very unlikely that people can catch COVID-19 from food. ‘COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging.’
In some cases, particularly with fresh food, removing the packaging could end up being counter-productive. This is because it can lead to the food deteriorating more quickly, meaning you’d end up having to go to the supermarket sooner than necessary.
However, in the wake of no credible evidence of virus transmitting through food and food packaging, it might be a little premature to confirm that frozen foods may carry the virus. A Reuters report carried the thoughts of health officials, doctors and other experts on the risk of infection from eating or handling frozen or chilled food.
Food Storage Safety For Restaurants
Food storage and handling are equally important when it comes to consumer health. Invest in a commercial freezer or chiller that complies with the latest food safety standards.
As a rule of thumb, your staff should always keep raw and ready-to-eat foods separate in the refrigerator. Make sure that all storage areas are clean and maintained at the correct temperature.
Meat products, for example, can be packed in vacuum bags and stored at between -18°C and 1°C. Allow them to cool before freezing to reduce condensation and temperature fluctuations. Place raw meat in the freezer as soon as possible.
Freeze fish and seafood at –20°C for at least 24 hours or –35°C for at least 15 hours to destroy parasites before consumption. Ideally, defrost the food in the fridge, not at room temperature.
To avoid cross-contamination, ask your kitchen staff to use different plates, chopping boards, and utensils for cooked and raw food. Store meat, poultry, and fish separately in the fridge.
If you’re selling ready-to-eat food, inform your customers about how long to store it safely. Use insulated bags or boxes to maintain the food temperature stable during transportation.
Keep Your Customers Safe
Although the novel coronavirus doesn’t spread through food, you still need to keep your customers safe at all times. Invest in quality freezers, meat display fridges, and shelving systems that ensure food storage safety.
These preventive measures can go a long way toward the success of your food business. Show customers that you care about your health and take the steps needed to protect your staff.
We Can Help Secure Your Workplace
At ADK, we can help to ensure your Refrigeration systems are working efficiently and within the guidelines of being COVID secure. Planned preventative maintenance visits can be arranged with clients tailored to their personal requirements within a timescale to suit their business needs and budgets. Tailoring our works for minimal disruption to your schedule, we’ll ensure that your air conditioning systems are maintained and cleaned to ensure fresh air is circulated in your workplace to help to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
For more information about our HVAC services, please get in touch with us today or call 0208 831 8900 and we’ll be more than happy to help you with anything you need. Alternatively, you can contact us to request an engineer and site survey.