Australian fruit

Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand (PMA A-NZ) has taken a proactive approach to ensure consumers have access to the best information during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

With reports of some consumers favouring canned or frozen foods or even avoiding fresh fruits and vegetables because of fear or lack of information, PMA A-NZ has enlisted expert help to ensure consumers are well-armed with positive practices and accurate facts about fresh produce.

Max Teplitski, chief science officer of PMA and Deon Mahoney, head of food safety of PMA A-NZ’s and William Li author of the New York Times bestseller Eat to Beat Disease, all contributed to information.

PMA A-NZ highlighted information provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that indicates that there is no evidence that food is the likely source or route of transmission of coronavirus.

However, WHO has issued precautionary advice advising of the need to follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as washing hands, practices Deon Mahoney expanded upon.

“Prepare and wash your fruit and vegetables as normal – wash them in cold running water and peel and cook where appropriate. Don’t use soaps or detergents as they’re not formulated for food,” said Mahoney.

“It’s important for consumers to be deliberate in planning their trips to the supermarket to adhere to the government advice around social distancing. However, it’s important to remember that the threat is not food or food packaging, but other people.”

The nutritional value of produce was another element PMA A-NZ promoted Li said fruits and vegetables will help consumers stay healthy and build their defences against infection.

“No single factor in our lives is going to prevent sickness, but there is a way to boost our own defence systems. A big part of that is consuming fresh produce,” said Li.

“The rules have not changed for healthy eating, even with the emergence of COVID-19. Consuming fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes boosts our health defences. This can help our bodies prevent and fight chronic diseases, as well as improve our defences against infection.”