Press Release: Many people woefully ignorant about food safety risks posed by COVID-19

Summary: A new study conducted by researchers from University College London has identified potentially harmful misperceptions about COVID-19 and nutrition.

With a number of world leaders spreading dangerous advice about drinking disinfectant or even injecting it, or taking antimalarial drugs for COVID-19 prevention despite scientists’ warnings, inoculating the public against harmful misinformation has never been more pressing, UCL researchers on misinformation urge.

In their study, launched jointly with The Health Sciences Academy shortly after lockdowns began, recruiting a cohort of 3,781 respondents, University College London’s Professor Michael J. Reiss and doctoral researcher Alex Ruani investigated the prevalence of misinformation surrounding COVID-19 food and eating practices. For this, they designed a survey study including 25 statements with the option to answer ‘correct’, ‘incorrect’, or ‘not sure’ in order to capture the participants’ views. Two-thirds of participants came from the UK, the USA, India and Ireland. The others came from one of 119 countries.

Alarmingly, 43% of participants wrongly believe that it is safe to eat fruits and vegetables that have been washed with soap or diluted bleach, supposedly to remove potential COVID-19 viral particles. Alex Ruani highlights that “It’s not safe to wash your fresh produce with soap or diluted bleach. But, quite worryingly, we found that a large number of people might be engaging in this harmful food practice despite food authorities’ warnings”.

Other potentially harmful misperceptions about COVID-19 and nutrition uncovered in this study, the first of its kind, included:

  • “Drinking water flushes all COVID-19 viral particles into the oesophagus and then the stomach, where they will be completely disintegrated by gastric acid” (21% wrongly believe this is correct, and 22% are unsure)
  • “You can protect yourself from the novel coronavirus by gargling bleach” (3.3% wrongly believe this is correct, and 7.5% are unsure)
  • “Keep your mouth and throat always moist, as saliva can encapsulate and deactivate the COVID-19 virus” (25% wrongly believe this is correct, and 29% are unsure)

Encouragingly, 96% believe that to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection, we should try to avoid direct contact with the person delivering groceries or packages, and wash our hands thoroughly after bringing in packages or grocery deliveries.

“Most people understand the importance of social distancing in preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, there are important misunderstandings about the implications of food and eating practices. Governments can help allay fears and reduce COVID-19 transmission by promoting clear public health messages about food and eating.” Quote from Professor Michael J. Reiss, UCL Institute of Education.

Source: Alex Ruani, doctoral researcher at University College London and Chief Science Educator at The Health Sciences Academy. Email: contact our team here. Telephone: +44(0)2033939511. Available for commentary and press interview.

Press contact: Hayley Smith, [email protected]

Coverage by University College London: “Many people believe false information about food safety risks posed by COVID-19”

See Also

Continuing Education Bundle

Free Academic Tour

Exclusive Webinar

[CPD Certified Webinar] Lifestyle Medicine Strategies for Your Nutrition Practice

  • Why nutrition and health practitioners should gain a deep insight into lifestyle medicine when working with clients
  • Importance of conducting health screenings and interpreting essential biometric data – while ensuring timely medical referral
  • How integrating lifestyle medicine into your programs can help clients better manage ongoing symptoms and optimise wellbeing
  • Advantages of attaining the Fundamentals of Anatomy, Pathophysiology, and Lifestyle Medicine™ Level 5 Certification
  • What lifestyle medicine practice looks like – and how it works within and outside medical settings

Register now

© Copyright

Everything on this site is original content, created and owned by or through The Health Sciences Academy ® or licensed accordingly.

The Health Sciences Academy is the world’s largest, 100% science-based, online educational institution.


✔ helping health professionals build their expertise in specialised areas             ✔ raising industry standards through personalised nutrition and practical science.
© Copyright The Health Sciences Academy. The content, graphs and charts on this page have been exclusively prepared for The Health Sciences Academy and its prospect students, existing students and graduates. None of the content on this page and website may be reproduced, copied or altered without our explicit permission. Criminal and legal penalties for copyright and other infringement apply. All Terms and Conditions apply.

Discover

Free Courses

Resources

Connect

About Us

© 2022 The Health Sciences Academy ® All Rights Reserved.

Client certifications

"My certifications with The Health Sciences Academy have taught me to use and understand many scientific methods and they are invaluable when it comes to implementing what I have learned into my business. I got clearer on the direction of my company. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them!"
Christopher Barker
Founder of The Lifestyle Clinic
"I've started a business based on helping people create the healhiest, most able-to-thrive babies possible with the building blocks being my learnings with The Health Sciences Academy. I'm just so thankful for the education and for the amazing team that helped me! For me it's been life-changing."
Rochelle Serna
Founder of The Non Tox Shop

Resources

Gain The Clarity You Need About Your Next Professional Steps by Taking a Career Strategy Assessment and Get FREE Access to The First Lessons of 14 Professional Certifications!
Send this to a friend