Food and the coronavirus: The peak of my anti-coronavirus hysteria in the kitchen, it was when two in pita wrapped souvlakis placed in a delivery bag were eagerly waited for to be consumed. My plan was absolutely clear: removed them from the bag with gloves. But then? Eat them wearing gloves? I rejected it as a not attractive idea in terms of my food tradition and style.
Then the paranoia took over. I started to wonder who and how one grilled, wrapped them and brought them to my home. What if the grill-man coughed over the meat or the staff spread thousands of invisible viruses over the tomatoes and onions? How dangerous is the thin paper around them? Is the delivery boy maybe an asymptomatic CVODI-19 patient? Soon, the whole souvlaki production chain, from raw meat cubes to the wrapped delicacy in my kitchen, started playing right before my eyes. How many hands -clean or not, with gloves or not, with virus or not – touched these two damned souvlakis in the bag?
I must have stood in front of them, contemplating about the coronavirus, for 3 or maybe 4 whole minutes, while I felt I was starving. Then I took a crucial decision that might put my life at risk. I told myself “What the f*ck? If doctors ask me where I contracted the virus I will say from two souvlakis!”
My risky adventure in my own kitchen took place in mid-March, and I am still alive mid-May.
Much to my knowledge, I have not contracted the virus, so far, neither from the two souvlakis nor from any other food item or their packaging nor from my extremely thin contacts to humans that were limited to one single person during my isolation that lasted almost eight weeks. Neither did I have any symptoms that could suggest the opposite.
Like the majority of people in Greece and elsewhere around the world, I followed personal safety instructions with frequent hand washing and disinfection, although I had to leave home just twice during this period. But someone was bringing shopping.
And that was a drag, a huge indeed. I remember myself starring at all these items in the bags taking long considerations on how to approach them. That was waste of brain energy and thoughts, it comes out.
The President of the Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) Αntonios Ζambelas said on Wednesday that the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is not transmissible via food and food packaging.
He reportedly said that safety measures are in place to reduce the risk of person to person transmission, not of food to person transmission.
He added that to date, there is no data that shows respiratory-disease viruses being transmitted through food or food packaging.
Corona-viruses cannot multiply in food, they need an animal or a human host to multiply, Zambelas added.
At the same time, he stressed that food production in the EU is already governed by strict hygiene rules, the implementation of which is mandatory for all food businesses, with the process subject to scrutiny by regulatory authorities.
End of story. End of my personal anti-coronavirus hysteria when it comes to the possibility to contract the virus from food and their packaging?
But I was not alone with my fears.
My friends wasted hours of their lives giving -what it turns out unnecessary – full baths to veggies and fruits. I haved used liters of disinfectant to spray the packaged items before storing them in the fridge or pantry, right from the beginning of the outbreak, when they told us that the coronavirus survives on surfaces. I read all possible results form tests in laboratories about how long the virus survives in specific surfaces made of iron, chrome, paper, of whatever.
Two weeks after the outbreak in Greece, I started to unpack with glove sin the hands everything coming from the supermarket, the bakery and the kiosk; odd, though, not the insulin and the syringes for the diabetes cat coming from the pharmacy, except touching the little plastic or paper bag with gloved hands.
Yet, this was hard and almost impossible to coordinate a totally safe procedure.
Theoretically, I should have to change gloves after having touched each item. Ha! That was practically impossible. I didn’t even think for 2 seconds to implement such strict measures. But I thought about it once. For half a second. Soon I was removing shopping from the bags wearing plastic gloves and just putting them in their right place, however, avoiding to place them first on the kitchen table or counter – this is something I have been avoiding all my adult life, anyway.
Some friends told me that they left their shopping outside, mostly in the fresh air of their balcony, for 3 days, waiting for the viruses to die.
I personally never gave an extra soap bath to veggies/fruits as some experts on Greek TV channels advised us to do, showing us a kitchen sink full of foam and water, oranges and apples, tomatoes and cucumbers happily floating around.
I think I was one of the first in my friends and relatives environment that I started my anti-virus strategy, long before media started bombarding us with several methods, tips and ideas. I suppose, I was the first to tame my personal anti-coronavirus hysteria, when I realized that no matter how careful I was, there was always something left behind (unsprayed or still packed) somewhere in the kitchen.
And then I had to start the whole procedure again (hands disinfection, gloves, touch items, remove gloves, thoroughly wash hands, disinfect them.) After a couple of weeks, I realized that 100% protection in the food/packaging was impossible.
And it’s not only food. Last week, a friend brought me some plants. What should have I done? Disinfect them before touching them? I took the risk…
What I still do for sure is the very essential: remove shopping items with hand gloves, due the usual cleaning and hygiene when it comes to food as I have done all my life.
The virus is still around. Hygiene measures, self-protection and social distancing are still top on my agenda. The virus plans to stay with us and things are difficult when there is medication and vaccination against it are still in trial phase.
How about you? How did you get along with your anti-coronavirus strategy in the kitchen?
PS I hear that many people around the globe do not order delivery fearing of the virus. Actually, me too. But there are times, I just can’t resist.