Corona and the ‘new normal’ in our eating behavior

The coronavirus is controlling us for months now and nowadays it is even an interesting research topic for trendwatchers; “What will be the “new normal”? Or will we finally return to our old

familiar habits?” Several interesting theories about our eating behavior have already been developed. Some trendwatchers claim that we eat better because we consume healthier food that strengthens our immune system. In addition, frightened by the many contaminations in slaughterhouses, we are apparently eating less meat (and more plant-based food). Another trendwatcher says just the opposite. We plunder, locked in our own house, the pantries for cookies, sweets and crisps. Because we are afraid to go outside, we have more fast food delivered and consume it on the couch.

Man is a creature of habit
In fact, both trendwatchers are somewhat right. But the reality shows that the majority of consumers have hardly changed their eating habits. These are the facts from a study commissioned by the Dutch Nutrition Center. This study shows that about 10% of the participants started to eat healthier and about 7% started eating unhealthier. But the vast majority of 83% of the participants did not change their diet. We can conclude that humans are creatures of habit and corona has not disrupted that.

Positive effects due to corona
The same research shows that due to corona, we are more aware of hygiene when cooking and eating. For example, fresh products such as fruits and vegetables are washed more often and/or better by 45% of the participants and 70% of the participants wash their hands better and/or more often before cooking (and 65% wash their hands better before eating). And that is a good habit.

Until now, no evidence has been found that people can be infected by the coronavirus from eating contaminated food. It seems unlikely that the virus can survive (for a long time) on the surface of fresh food products. Nevertheless, we have become more aware of the risk of cross-contamination through food, hands and kitchen tools (such as cutting boards, knives, serving spoons, etc.).

This increased awareness of hygiene is unlikely to have any noticeable effect in the fight against the coronavirus, but it is nevertheless a good development. It does contribute to the spread of other pathogens that can also make people seriously ill. Consider, for example, bacteria such as EHEC (a strain of bacteria within the E. coli bacteria, which caused a lot of chaos in Germany and other countries in Europe in 2011) and residues of pesticides that remain on fresh fruit and vegetables.

We as creatures of habit will not get infected with the corona virus during dinner. But the effect of the increased awareness of a good hygiene is a positive side effect of this unpleasant period. It can prevent a lot of trouble in the future and that would be a nice trend, wouldn’t it?