World Food Safety Day 2021: Cooking, consuming in the new normal

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Food safety has sure found a new meaning in the Covid times. Washing, cleaning veggies with cleaners, ensuring triple layer packaging while delivering, sanitisation of kitchen or restaurant premises, vaccination of employees and checking of oxygen levels — there are so many preventive measure being taken at various levels, to ensure that the food that is thus cooked for consumption is hygienic, and delivered in the safest way possible.

This year, World Food Safety Day (June 7) is themed on Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow. And that’s exactly what’s being preached and followed by home chefs who prepared food for Covid patients, homemakers who are taking utmost care while cooking in Covid times, and restaurateurs who’ve got their entire staff vaccinated to ensure there’s least space and risk for transmission of the virus.

Packaging – triple layer!

A Gurugram-based home chef, Sonali Chatterji, who has been delivering food to Covid patients says she ensures that everyone involved in her kitchen and delivery gets their temperature checked, twice daily. And everyone is mandated to wear a face mask and cover head with disposable cap. “Our kitchen gets sanitised, and so is the packaging. We have had a triple layer packaging of food, with the top one working as tamper proof, inner bag stapled and the spill proof food containers taped and cling wrapped. This allows the person who has ordered food to just remove the tamper proof bag, dispose it and bring the inner bag inside home. I’ve dedicated delivery persons whose temperatures are noted, and bags get sanitised,” she Chatterji, and Samita Halder, another Gurugram-based home chef who has been delivering food to Covid patients, says, “I ensured that there is contactless delivery through delivery apps, and always send food in microwave oven safe boxes so that the one who receives it can reheat, for safety purposes.”

Fruits and vegges need to be disinfected, too!

A Delhi-based teacher Anshu Mukherjee says she’s been taking steps to ensure contactless delivery of fruits and vegetables from their local vegetable seller, apart from taking other measures to ensure that the food that’s cooked and consumed in her house is safe. “We take several measures to observe hygiene, sanitisation and proper storage of food. We disinfect the fruits and vegetables with vegetable cleaners like baking soda or vinegar to reduce the possibility of contracting any virus! We try to eat healthy foods, especially the ones that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Fruits and green vegetables are consumed daily. Amla, which is rich in vitamin C is easily available these days and helps to boost the immunity, so we try to consume it regularly. Also, cooking fresh food daily, and small portions, prevents wastage and keeps it bacteria free. The entire process that includes the long list of planning, purchasing, sanitising, storing, preparing, cooking and consuming is a part of food hygiene. We look forward to these everyday rituals. Despite the dark times that we live in, the lockdown has been a period of learning, awareness, creativity and joy,” says Mukherjee.

Himani Dhingra, a Delhi-based homemaker, shares how she has started keeping freshly bought groceries in the sun for at least 24 hours before bringing them to the kitchen, as a hack to reduce chances of Covid. “We had previously never emphasised so much on vegetable cleaners as much as we did during these times. Any fruit or veggie is now soaked, washed, dried and only then consumed. Also, the minute they are brought inside the home, they go for a sun bath first.. there’s no scientific reason behind it but psychologically it helps us think we have not consumed any brought from outside directly so it’s safer,” says Dhingra.

Staff vaccinated, insured

“We added extra layers of packaging and also made sure the food is sealed specifically so no tampering can be done while delivering. We have at our own cost vaccinated most of our team and are in the process of doing the same. We have got health insurance done for all our team as well,” says Amit Bagga, co-founder, Daryaganj restaurant. And echoing a similar sentiment, Aman Puri, food director at Imly, says: “All the raw materials are washed, sanitised and only then used. After every three hours, temperature and oxygen levels of all the present staff are checked and monitored regularly. We ensure that the chefs and the person who is packing the food stays within the restaurant premises, so that there are no chances of getting Covid-19.”

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