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Written by Kumaran P


Outlets facing heat of partial lockdown, but doctors dismiss viral message on ice creams

Earlier this month, a viral WhatsApp message circulating in Mayalsia put the UNICEF in a weird spot. The message claimed that the UNICEF has been issuing advice about preventing the spread of the coronavirus, which included not eating ice cream. Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Partnerships, had to issue a statement that the information is wholly untrue, and ice cream does not carry the coronavirus and neither has the UNICEF discouraged people from eating it.

And while Bengaluru’s fake news lovers haven’t quite had the privilege of spreading this rumour yet, a few ice cream stores are taking the statement issued by United Nations agency seriously. The Indian Ice Cream Manufacturers’ Association has also put the UNICEF statement up on their website. Despite that, some of the leading local ice cream brands have noticed a considerable dip in their sales. Pradeep Bali, who owns eight franchisees of Apsara Ice Cream , said that their business would have dipped to about 20 per cent in the past four to five days. “I am not sure if it is because of any specific rumour or just that people are going out a lot less because of the Covid-19 situation. I have not seen the viral message about ice cream being bad though. However, we have put up the statement issued by the UNICEF at our outlets,” Bali added.

Doctors have also dismissed such messages. Dr. Swati Rajagopal, consultant of infectious disease and travel medicine at Aster CMI Hospital said that individuals need to ensure whether their news source is credible or not. She said that social media users have been sharing advice on ways to treat or prevent the disease. “It is important to understand that only by taking precautions like frequent hand washing, covering your mouth with a tissue while coughing and sneezing and avoiding public gatherings, we can limit the spread of the virus,” she said.

Bali’s store is also making sure there are enough sanitiser bottles available for their customers and has asked each of their staff members to use them continuously. “That apart, anyone who’s handling the ice creams have to cover their head, wear gloves and masks,” Bali specifies. He goes on to state as long as people are maintaining high standards of manufacturing and sticking to a good hygiene routine, eating out shouldn’t cause any worry. “I have however noticed some of the larger mass manufactured ice cream brands suffering a setback. These would be the brands that depend heavily on preservatives. ” Dr Pratik Patil, infectious diseases consultant at Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, also said that consumption of ice-cream is safe. He said that like every other kind of food, ice-creams too don’t have a link to coronavirus.

Narayan Rao, owner of Corner House, who did not want to comment on the ‘rumour’ said, “I don’t know about this piece of information, but people just not going out these days because of the current situation.” Yet another ice cream brand, which had to close down its outlet in Indiranagar 100 Feet Road, said business has been terrible for the food and beverage industry. The owner said, “We have other outlets in the city that are still operational but we are only delivering at home at the moment and not allowing walk-ins. We have taken a huge hit in the business anyway, and while I am not sure if it’s because of the rumour or the general dip in Food & Beverage sector. But it’s affecting us badly.” Anish Vakharia, owner of Lakeview Milkbar, hadn’t even heard of this rumour till BM contacted him. “People come up with all sorts of stories. It’s amazing. And yes, we have definitely noticed that business has been sluggish, but we haven’t closed any of our outlets. I can’t really say if our ice cream section has been affected in particular or not, but the current environment has hit the business.”

(With inputs from Kumaran P)

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