The Covid-19 virus is claiming more and more lives - 480,000 and counting - around the world. As humanity fights the global pandemic, maintaining proper food safety and handling protocol has become essential, especially in Bangladesh.
Typically, patients get the Covid-19 virus through close contact from others who carry the virus. According to the scientific brief published by the World Health Organization; the current evidence suggests that the virus is "primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes". This transmission can also occur through objects or materials "in the immediate environment around the infected person".
Therefore, other people can catch the virus by just coming in contact with those objects or surfaces followed by touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. This is why we need to know the proper way to clean our vegetables before consuming them. Even if you think your oranges or leafy greens are not contaminated with the virus, it is needful to wash them to remove dirt, bacteria, or any chemicals used earlier.
To ensure food safety at all times, a number of people are washing their store-bought produce in soap, detergents, or other household cleaners. This is completely unnecessary unless you have fruit and vegetable wash (commercially produced wash) or a disinfectant machine at your disposal.
Here are some tips to wash vegetables or fruits properly:
Hand washing still remains a crucial step to reduce the chances of spreading the virus. Before and after handling the fresh produce, wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap - either count to 20 or sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice. If soap is not available, use hand sanitizer; you can also use gloves if need be.
Clean your countertop or washing area with warm soapy water or a disinfectant. Knives, cutting boards, brush, or sponge should also be washed before and after handling the veggies.
Bring out your bought-produce from the bags and rinse and rub them in running water (room temperate). For vegetables that will be peeled later for cooking - clean the dirt using a sponge or just with your hands. As for leafy veggies, immerse the whole thing in a bowl of water and gently wash them. If the first time does not remove all the dirt then rinse the stock under running water as set them aside.
Solid vegetables like cucumbers and fruits - rinse them under running water and rub them clean.
After rinsing, make sure not to cross-contaminate with the unwashed items. To do this, keep a designated area for your washed items. If you are not satisfied with just using water - adding baking soda to water makes a great disinfectant for vegetables and using soft brushes to clean the thick-skinned veggies like melons can be helpful as well. After using the baking soda and water solution - clean the products with water.
Once the rinsing is done, remove the water from the items using a clean kitchen towel or kitchen tissues. Now that they are cleaned; store them in a safe place to avoid recontamination.
Some vegetables and fruits can be too ripe or soft to wash them under running water; in this case, use a water bowl and gently rinse them. Inspect for your vegetables for damages or bruises. It is quite common for them to bruised - they travel a long way from harvest to your home. In this case, after washing them just chop off the damaged or bruised part and store the food.
In the process of cleaning our veggies, we forget the bags they have been carried in - either dispose of them or wash the bags with soap and water. While washing make sure to not touch your or anyone's face - eyes, mouth, ears, or nose.
Another small tip to stay clean and safe this pandemic is to clean your kitchen counters, stove, freezer, refrigerator, and microwave with hot soapy water frequently. After using the kitchen tools - cutting boards, knives, brushes - wash them in hot, soapy water or the dishwasher after each use.
This ongoing coronavirus pandemic has brought our attention to the importance of food safety.
Let us consume safe and healthy food.