Although the “viral load” of illness bearing organisms like Covid-19 do wear off with time, there is still no real indication of how long the organism can live on grocery bought food or take-out cartons. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus disintegrates over the course of a day on cardboard, but that it can also live for three days on steel and plastic.  The virus can also be sneezed and then coughed into air. The virus becomes suspended in droplets smaller than five micrometers — known as aerosols. The virus can stay suspended for about a half-hour, researchers said, before dropping onto nearby surface, waiting to be touched. As both the take-out food and grocery industries require a lot of handling and interaction with plastic, steel and cardboard it is a good idea to sterilize all of your food before you get home.

Temperatures and times for coronavirus are not yet fully researched, but scientists suggest a temperature of 149°F (65°C) for at least 3 minutes is sufficient to kill off all pathogens in food, including the coronavirus.

To sterilize your food, take the following measures:

  • Make sure that you reheat soups, stews and sauces to a simmer. Stir the food frequently so that it heats throughout so that all microbes are rendered inactive.
  • When in doubt, microwave it, as microwaving is a sure way to kill the virus. Foods that should definitely be microwaved include mashed potatoes, pasta and vegetables. You should also do this with canned, frozen and take-out items. Heat for at least 90 seconds to be most effective.
  • Sauté pasta, frozen fries and loose vegetables for two minutes before cooking them as directed by package instructions.
  • If you are reheating casseroles, cutlets or bread preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) and then place the food on an oven safe tray with lower sides and heat the food until it is too hot to touch.
  • Chopped-and-formed foods like meatloaf, meatballs, dumplings, falafel, etc. should be thoroughly heated to the center, following the time and temperature guidelines stated above (heat to an internal temperature of at least 149°F/65°C, and hold it there for at least 3 minutes).
  • When in doubt make toast, roast or broil first. Reheating or cooking solid foods, such as a chicken breast, a steak, or a loaf of bread, it is very unlikely that any viral or bacterial load will have penetrated past the surface unless the food has been pierced or cut.
  • According to Serious Eats, a website that published a guide on how to handle food during the pandemic, pathogens can be destroyed even if you are heating the food for a very short time. So if you have takeout food like a falafel, curry or stew, reheat it t least 149°F/65°C, and hold it there for at least 3 minutes). If you want to be extra certain about your results use a digital thermometer to test the item’s temperature.

You might also want to pay attention to what type of bag is being used to contain the take-out food. Although the risk is minimal for any bags at a store to be carrying an infectious load, because they are pulled out one by one from packaging and the bags sit in transit or storage for a very long time.

Are you worried about your health or what to eat during the Covid-19 pandemic? For more information about human immunity, immuneodeficiencies or to book a consultation about anti-aging, naturopathic testing, Toronto weight loss programs or any health issue you may be experiencing, visit the Pinewood Natural Healthcare Centre website that has a list of full services and products at www.pinewoodhealth.ca. You can also call our Toronto Office at  (416)-656- 8100.  We also have an office in Pickering, Ontario at (905)-427-0057. Send an email to info@pinewoodhealth.ca and we would be happy to answer any question that you have about our holistic health services.

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