Rainfall, the earthy smell of the rain, and the mild nature of the humidifies – monsoon is an instant relief from the hot climate of the summer season. Nevertheless, with the beautiful showering rains comes the beautiful showering of bacteria and viruses that cause food-borne diseases. Due to the humidity and warm temperature, the environment harbors bacteria, so rainy season food hygiene becomes extremely critical during this period.

With the information provided in this blog, you will be fully aware of the foods of the rainy season and the best ways to prepare them effectively. From the risks of monsoon meals to implementing the best practices, you’ll certainly have your feet wet enjoying your meals.

How Does Rainy Season Increase Food Safety Risks?

During the monsoon, several factors contribute to a higher risk of food spoilage and contamination:

  • Increased Microbial Activity: Warm, humid conditions are perfect for bacterial multiplication, mold, and fungi development. These microorganisms can cause food spoilage and result in food-borne diseases such as diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach aches.
  • Contaminated Water: This implies that an increase in the intensity of rainfall can lead to cases of waterborne contamination, especially in saturated areas, such as wells and municipal supplies. When preparing food using dirty water or washing vegetables and other food items using water, you are likely to contaminate your food with unsafe food pathogens.
  • Spoiled Produce: Persistent rains also affect crops, which spoil faster when they rain heavily. Also, transporting and/or storing produce during the monsoons might pose additional contamination risks.
  • Power Outages: Subsequent blackouts can sometimes interfere with the refrigerator’s functioning, causing food to decay more quickly.

Rainy Season Food Safety and Hygiene Practices

By adopting these simple yet effective practices, you can ensure your monsoon meals are not only delicious but also safe:

Prioritize Cleanliness

  • Wash Your Hands Frequently: Use soap and clean, warm water to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after cooking, while cleaning these utensils, or before using the washroom.
  • Clean Surfaces Regularly: After preparing each meal, clean kitchen surfaces, knives, and chopping boards with a bleach solution or food-grade disinfectant.
  • Maintain Personal Hygiene: Keep your kitchen area clean and free of junk. Replace old dishcloths and towels often and wash them regularly to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.

Be Picky About Produce

  • Inspect Carefully: When purchasing fruits and vegetables, select the fresh and tightly packed ones with no brown spots or decay. Do not purchase pre-cut fruits and vegetables because they present a higher risk for bacterial contamination.
  • Wash Thoroughly: Rinse all fruits and vegetables under a separate tap, regardless of whether you will remove their skin. You can use a vegetable wash solution to enhance the process of washing fruits and vegetables. Wash vegetables and greens in clean water to ensure that the soil and residue are washed off before cooking.
  • Store Properly: Ensure that fruits and vegetables are placed in clean, dry bowls or baskets and stored in the refrigerator. Fresh vegetables should be kept in bags with small holes so that moisture will not accumulate and spoil them.

Water Wisdom

  • Boil or Purify: When drinking tap water, it is always advised to heat it for at least one minute to eliminate the bacteria that cause diseases. Otherwise, water can be stored in a clean container or passed through a filter from a safe source.
  • Use Boiled Water for Cooking: Avoid using tap water to prepare rice, pasta, or any other food item that requires water because it is boiled.

Food Preparation and Cooking

  • Cook Thoroughly: Ensure all the meat, poultry, and seafood reach the specified safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to check.
  • Separate Raw and Cooked Food: Avoid direct contact of cooked food with raw products, and ensure you clean the cutting board and spoons with different ones for raw and cooked products.
  • Cover Leftovers: Any remaining food should be cooled rapidly, placed into serving dishes that are sealed properly, and placed in the refrigerator. Leftovers should be rewarmed to proper hotness before consumption.
  • Limit Uncooked Food: Do not eat raw foods, such as grilled foods sold by street vendors or leafy vegetables used in salads.

Storage Solutions

  • Invest in Airtight Containers: Kitchens are likely to be humid, and as a result, food items that are kept there, like grains, pulses, and spices, must be stored in air-tight containers.
  • Manage Leftovers: They should ideally be consumed in the next 2-3 days and not beyond that. Products that are spoiled or have been out at room temperature for a long time should be trashed.
  • Minimize Fridge Overload: Avoid overstuffing your refrigerator. This will compromise air circulation, which is vital when storing food.

Bonus Tip: Most of the monsoon food practices mentioned here are still acceptable from a food safety point of view. Acidic foods, such as those found in monsoon foods, destroy pathogenic bacteria due to their high spicy and sour content. Also, consuming ginger, garlic, and turmeric can help enhance your immunity during this period.

Rainy Season Food Items: Choose Wisely!

Not all kinds of food get spoiled easily during the monsoon season, but some are best suited for consumption. Here are some tips for selecting safe and healthy rainy-season food:

  • Embrace Seasonal Produce: The monsoon season is also a productive season for fruits and vegetables; thus, one should opt for these seasonal fruits and vegetables. They are often more fresh, less costly, and less likely to be contaminated because they take a short time to transport. Some foods containing fibrous tissues include squashes or gourds, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, and fruits like berries.
  • Go for Soups and Stews: Soups and stews are better suited for rainy weather since they are warm and comforting. Adding many vegetables and proteins to the dish is also very easy, so there is a nice balance of the nutrients provided. Further, boiling kills most bacteria that would have otherwise been present in the water.
  • Pulses and Lentils: Pulses and lentils should be included in the diet because they contain proteins, fiber, and other nutrients. They also cost a little less and have a very long shelf life. They can be stacked in the pantry during monsoons. Thus, they are ideal for soups, stews, dals, or even salads, depending on one’s preference.
  • Sprouted Grains: High-fiber sprouted grains are rich in nutrients and light and do not lead to constipation; thus, they are ideal for monsoon consumption. They also contain vitamin and mineral content, which helps boost immunity. Sprouted grains should ideally be incorporated into salad stir-fry dishes or used as an accompaniment to the usual meals.

Limit Risky Foods

  • Street Food: When choosing food from the streets during the monsoon, do it with lots of precaution. Choose foods that are thoroughly cooked and served by vendors who practice hygiene. Do not order salads or juice that have not been cooked or pasteurized.
  • Deep-Fried Foods: Samosas, pakoras, and other fried dishes are often consumed during the monsoon season. Besides, they contain fats and can cause complications such as difficulty in digestion, which is undesirable during this period. Reduce them as much as possible, and where it is not easy to do so, try to use the healthier options available.
  • Spoiled or Moldy Food: Replace any food that has developed signs of spoilage, for example, develops a wrong color, bad smell, or mold formation. Never attempt to eat spoiled food by trimming off the mold the same way the mold spores will continue to grow within the food.

Food Safety Practices in Monsoon

Most cultures have traditional ways of preparing and taking monsoon foods that enhance the food’s taste and ensure the food is safe for human consumption. Consider these:

  • Fermentation: Products like pickles and yogurt are additions to the diet since they are tasty, help with digestion, and enhance gut health. During the fermentation process, conditions are unfavorable for the growth of pathogenic organisms.
  • Spices: Ensure you use large amounts of spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, and cloves in your foods. Most spices possess antibacterial properties that may aid food preservation.
  • Herbal Teas: Herbal teas like ginger, tulsi, or peppermint are perfect for warming up at the end of your meal. They also help with digestion and can increase your immunity.

Conclusion

Regarding food safety and hygiene, one does not have to sacrifice for the sake of the monsoon season. Following the above guidelines and being more observant in avoiding cross-contamination, you can enjoy your meals even in the rainy season. So, always remember that some planning and knowledge go a long way in ensuring your monsoon munchies stay safe and your tummy content!

Enjoy the rains and the food, but ensuring the food is safe for consumption is equally important!