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Opinions Tue, 7 Apr 2020

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In the midst of the coronavirus lockdown; make food safety a priority

The Coronavirus pandemic is really scary and worrying. When you see how even developed countries are suffering to deal with the effects of this virus, you will feel sorry for the human race. Indeed, the Holy Bible was right in saying that “All men are like grass, and their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall” – 1 Peter 1:24. The current situation has to teach us to be humble and fear God as well.

The sad thing is that countries which had robust healthcare systems struggle to contain the pandemic. They lose many of their compatriots to the coronavirus. The aged say that; “If you see a green grass burning and you are a dry grass, the trouble that awaits you is great”. We all know that we do not have good healthcare facilities in the Blackman’s homeland.

No one really cares about investing the taxpayers’ money in a healthcare system that will cater for the owners of the money. With the weak structures we have, coronavirus can wipe the whole continent of Africa out in a few months if given the chance. The odds are just against us. Another fact is that we are bound socially to the extent that social distancing is proving to be like rocket science to us. This is sad. This method has been proven as a good way to break the coronavirus chain. We practice it to our own benefit.

It is of no doubt that additional measures are definitely needed to prevent the worst case scenario like what we see happening in countries like China, Italy, Spain, USA, etc. The options are many including lockdowns. Lockdowns will call for so many preparations, one of which is keeping food for the days ahead.

Food can spoil and also bring its own health challenges if consumed in a bad state. That is why safety must be considered in situations like this. One of the surest ways to guarantee safety is to buy wholesome produce from farmers. If you have access to the farms, just ensure that the farmers have good farming practices in place to ensure the safety of whatever they produce.

For most of us who will buy from the markets and the roadside let us tell the retailer to buy from the correct farmer. Otherwise we choose retailers who buy from good sources. Another thing we can do is to inspect the wholesomeness of the produce we buy. The rotten ones are no good for our consumption so do not choose them. The ones that are smelling of chemicals are also not good for us so reject them. The ones that are withered when they should be fresh are also not good at all so do not patronize them. Just ensure that the food produce you buy to stock up are wholesome.

When you get home, storing of these food items will have to be on point to ensure that they survive their shelf life. Thorough washing is required before storage. Perishables will have to be refrigerated or frozen. This will have to be done promptly. Not like what some people do; they buy meat at 10am, keep it in the kitchen till evening before they refrigerate it. By that time, the meat would have started spoiling. Yet they still freeze it. The day you use it; you would have been eating rotten meat. May be you do not notice that because it is not fully rotten with maggots.

Another way of keeping perishable food items or ingredients for longer is to use them to prepare meals for storage. So instead of storing the raw tomatoes, use them for stews. Freeze the stews for future use. It is safer to store stews and soups in small bowls that will be consumed in one meal by the whole family.

There will be no need to re-freeze after taking the small bowl of stew from the freezer. Ensure thorough heating of stored/frozen foods like stews and soups before consuming. Never assume that the hot steaming rice you scoop from the pot onto your plate will be able to heat your cold stew that you just removed from the fridge. This is a common habit by many people which has to be discouraged since it is not safe.

Cover food all the time and also use clean knives, spoons and plates. Wash your hands often when dealing with food.

Remove rubbish from the kitchen periodically. Do not allow the dustbins to become full before you empty them. Dispose the rubbish before the bins get half way full.

Once your ingredients are wholesome, you are ready to prepare healthy meals; that has to be your aim, do not use your fresh and healthy vegetables and other ingredients to prepare unhealthy, excessively fried and oily and too salty foods. These ones can make you ill.

Stay blessed!!!

Columnist: Wise Chukwudi Letsa

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