Wondering whether to clean your groceries? During the Covid-19 outbreak, we’re having to take extra precautions to keep ourselves safe, but should cleaning our groceries be one of those precautions? Or is that totally pointless? With so many Americans forced to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic, heading out for essential groceries is quite likely one of the only outings you’ll be having these days.
Whilst WHO (opens in new tab) announced that Covid-19 can spread by droplet transmission, the organization also added that the ‘transmission of the COVID-19 virus can occur by direct contact with infected people and indirect contact with surfaces in the immediate environment.’
So, what does this mean for the groceries that we buy in the store? Does it mean it’s essential to wipe down groceries and any produce you buy that someone else could have potentially touched?
Well, yes and no. The World Health Organization has also stressed that it’s not known for certain if Covid-19 can live on packaging or surfaces, but if it behaves like other coronaviruses, it’s likely it could ‘persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days’.
As so many people are stuck at home, a rise in baking and a boom in sales of bread makers (opens in new tab), means people are keeping themselves busy with cooking, so should they be taking extra care when heading out to buy their produce, and what should they do when they get it home?
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up the best tips and handy hacks for keeping safe and all the steps you can take to clean your groceries.
How to stay safe when shopping for groceries
It’s pretty common knowledge now that heading out for groceries is something we should only be doing when absolutely necessary. Gone are the days when you could have a leisurely browse and, instead, the CDC (opens in new tab) recommends staying at least six feet away from any other shoppers when you’re in the store. The CDC endorses homemade face masks (opens in new tab) too for times when it’s hard to maintain social distancing.
If there are disinfectant wipes available, give your shopping cart a good wipe down and be sure to keep some hand sanitizer in your bag for after you’ve finished your shopping.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth until you’ve left the store and have thoroughly washed your hands. Once you’ve left the store, use hand sanitizer until you get home where you can wash your hands properly for at least 20 seconds.
Do you need to clean your groceries when you get home from the store?
The FDA (opens in new tab) has said that “currently there is no evidence of food, food containers, or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects.” With that in mind, it’s still worth following the basic guidelines to clean, separate, cook and chill food properly.
When you get home from the grocery store and you’ve washed your hands, you can begin washing fruits and vegetables under clean water. Whilst for some people, it may be tempting to use soap, ingesting soap or antibacterial products can be dangerous and should be avoided.
The foodsafety.gov (opens in new tab) website also suggests scrubbing the exterior of things like melons and cucumber with a clean scrubbing brush, before patting them dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
It is strongly advised however, that produce like eggs and meat are not washed, along with pre-packaged food which is pre-washed.
Dispose of any unnecessary packaging and keep surface areas clean once you’ve fully unpacked your shopping.
How else can you protect yourself from coronavirus?
If you’re someone who is more vulnerable or you simply want to avoid going to the grocery store, then looking into the best food storage companies (opens in new tab) could be a good alternative option.
As with any contact outside your home, food deliveries and parcels should be left on your doorstep so that you don’t have to come into contact with anyone outside your household. If you’re looking to make your food last as long as possible, why not invest in one of the best freezers (opens in new tab), or whip up some smart meals in one of the best slow cookers (opens in new tab)?