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Nutritionist urges better food handling, preparation

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Consumer Advocacy for Food Safety and Nutrition (CAFSANI) has warned that the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) might spread fast across the country due to the unhygienic practices in food handling and preparation, especially in areas where there is no potable water.

The Executive Director, Prof. Olugbenga Ben Ogunmoyela, noted that there were still many areas of the country, including some urban centres, such as Kano and Lagos, where human waste mixed with sand was used as fertilisers in vegetable gardens and fruit orchards.

Ogunmoyela said: “Our saving grace, in the absence of direct contact with infected persons, is the way we cook our foods at such high heat that the viruses will not survive.”

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He stressed the need to examine consumers’ safety as questions are being asked whether the virus can be passed on through food and water.

“It is known that coronaviruses need a host animal to grow and can be passed from person to person, but generally cannot grow in food. The virus is commonly passed on either directly through contact with an infected person’s body fluids.

“For example, droplets from coughing or sneezing, or indirectly through contact with surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on,” he stated.

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Investigation into how the virus spreads and likely sources of food cross-contamination within the food production and distribution chain would be of great help in our environment if the spread were to be quickly controlled, he added. 

“Post-processing contamination with the virus from an infected person or persons with suspected symptoms of any respiratory illness can be avoided if such person(s) seek timely medical attention and/or self-isolate, rather than handling or preparing food for other people during the time of distress. 

“Infections of staff with COVID-19 in food businesses around the world may gradually lead to disruption of the food supply chain where certain ingredients and packaging may be in short supply,” he advised.

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