Monsoon brings with it an end to the scorching summer heat and a sigh of relief for everyone. It is also a time to be extra careful about infections, in particular, gastrointestinal infections. During this season, immunity tends to be weakened, making people more susceptible to infections.
Coupled with this, the digestive enzymes have lower activity, and the digestive system as a whole becomes more sensitive and vulnerable to infections. Therefore, we should be extra careful about what we eat. During the rainy season, the moisture in the air increases to very high levels, and along with it, various microbes tend to multiply. In particular, fungi tend to grow and multiply profusely in this increased moisture conditions.
Hence Dr Saurabh Arora, founder of Food Safety Helpline.com have put forward some tips to store food hygienically.
1) Bread and other bakery products are susceptible to spoilage by molds. Therefore, we must take care not to keep these food items exposed to the moist air for long periods. We should consume these items as soon as they are taken out of their air-tight packets.
2) Care should also be exercised with milk and milk products, as these are susceptible to contamination and spoilage by microorganisms, particularly in the humid weather, which is common in the monsoon season. Care should be taken not only for food items, but also for the various ingredients and additives that go into preparation of the dishes. These should be kept in hermetically sealed containers, so that they are not exposed to moisture.
3) Cut fruits also shouldn’t be kept out in the open during the rainy season. These should ideally be consumed as soon as they are cut, to avoid any contamination with microbes. Likewise, fruit juices should also be consumed fresh and not stored for later consumption.
4) The storage of cooked food is very important. Prepared food should ideally be consumed hot, soon after cooking. In case of consumption at a later time, it should be quickly cooled, carefully covered and stored refrigerated in order to avoid microbial contamination. It is to be noted that while storing food in the refrigerator, the cooked food should be stored in the upper shelves, while the raw food in the lower shelves.
5) Store the raw resources away from moisture It would be a good idea to avoid buying in bulk during the monsoon season, in order to avoid problems with storage.
6) Be careful while consuming certain types of food during the monsoon time. One of the most common snacks in this category are samosas. Other oily snacks include paneer pakoras, which might cause gastric problems if the ingredients are not fresh. Fermented food items like chole bhature can be spoiled by fungi that flourish in the humid conditions prevailing during the rainy season. As a general rule of thumb, all types of spicy and oily food should be consumed in moderation.
7) Avoid street food. Most types of street foods are generally prepared in the open. There is a chance of contamination of the food with rain water. The stalls are sometimes located near open drains, where there is chance of contamination with coliform bacteria, which can cause serious diarrheal disease. Moreover, the water used for preparing street food favorites like golgappas is likely to be contaminated, and there is a chance of contracting water-borne diseases like cholera and typhoid in this way.
8) Special precautions for drinking water. It is very important to keep the body well hydrated during the monsoon months. Therefore, it is essential to drink plenty of water. Drinking water must be very safe for consumption, since during the rainy season, chances of contamination increases manifold. It should be noted that besides microbes, ground water can be heavily contaminated with chemicals, as these leach easily into the underground water deposits. The best way to ensure safe drinking water is to filter the water, followed by boiling, before drinking.
If these simple precautions and hygienic practices are followed, this will enable you and your family to enjoy and appreciate the true beauty of the monsoon season.