By Anurag Mishra*
With more than 30,000 fatalities and 700,000+ infection globally (as of 29th March 20), Coronavirus has affected the entire world in all possible ways. All developed countries like the USA, Canada, UK and other EU countries have been affected like never before and developing counties like India is trying to reduce the contamination as much as possible. Most of the countries are under lockdown, and nobody knows till when it will last, everyone is wishing to get out of this situation as soon as possible.
Every action comes with a reaction (sometimes with few positives) and from a food safety angle, we are anticipating few positive post effects out of this epidemic. Here are few:
Personal Hygiene: If you ask any Food Safety Professional that what is one of the most important practices they enforce in their manufacturing facilities/restaurants, most of them will shout “Its Personal Hygiene” of the people working there.It is just because of the people who are working on shop floor in the facilities/restaurants, etc. are comparatively less aware of the benefit of these practices and food safety team members need to train them again and again because practices get diluted over the period. Also, new associates take little more time to understand the importance of personal hygiene but during this crisis, due to such huge awareness about personal hygiene like hand washing/sanitizing and using PPEs (mask, gloves, etc.), will create a huge difference, and we expect people will understand the significance of these control and preventive measures and will follow religiously.
Now coming to literate population, let us take an example from Food safety specialist/hygiene specialist’s life” When they used to carry a bottle of sanitiser all the time (during travel, shopping etc), most of their friends, colleague and family members (sometimes) used to get irritated telling that sometimes they overdue with the hand wash and sanitation. They told most of the time, that you wash your hands just 30 minutes back and again you are using sanitiser. Using all their knowledge every time they tried to explain (what all the currently shared videos explain to stop contamination) the science and benefits of washing hands and using PPEs but most of the time.
Now its good that more than 1000 videos and more than 10,000 articles/posters are explaining the benefits of personal hygiene related practices. All of us would have seen a video where an elderlywoman and a 3 years older child were telling that washing hands is not sufficient until you wash for more than 20 seconds. This gives the confidence that our older and newer generation is learning something new and beneficial during this crisis.
Cleaning and Sanitation: There will be an increase in awareness about cleaning and sanitation related practices. In the news and social media, we all can see that the streets, lifts, escalators, roads, malls, hospitals, etc. are being continuously cleaned and sanitized to kill the live virus. Many videos are demonstrating the techniques of cleaning and sanitation which highlight the specific areas like lift buttons, handrails and handles etc.
Understanding of Basic Microbiology: Out of the three hazards (Physical, Chemical and Microbiological), Microbiological hazard is most common and during this crisis/epidemic the most commonly used term is “Virus” which is causing the illness. An equal number of visuals and posters are telling that how the virus works, its life cycle, how it gets killed etc. and in the same way people are reading about other microbes (bacteria, mold, yeast etc.). We are expecting that this will create more awareness about basic microbiology among common people.
Expecting above to be true and people will get something positive out of this crisis and hard time, again we wish that we all remain safe and unite during this epidemic.
* Author is Food Safety Professional and can be reached at Anurag.email@example.com