By the time we actually get our groceries home, most items already have been handled by the employee who stocked the shelf, the cashier and the bagger. And who knows if another customer touched it or, even worse, coughed or sneezed nearby. From the carts to the bags to the produce, everything has the potential to spread viruses.
At the Grocery Store
Clean Cart Handles – Consider gloves or wipes
If you have them, consider wearing gloves to the store. Be sure to remove them before getting back in your car. You can also use disinfecting wipes to pick up items from store shelves.
Keep Your Distance – The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person, a new update is between people who are within about 13 feet. I elect to wear a mask when out.
Fresh Produce – Those who are at risk or have compromised immune systems may want to consider buying fruits and vegetables that are frozen or prepackaged. Fresh produce is safe when washed for 20 seconds with food-safe cleaners.
Shopping- Avoid touching products and returning them to the shelf. Only touch what you plan to purchase.
No Reusable Bags- Remember all reusable grocery bags carry bacteria. For now, use the plastic bags provided by the store and dispose of them when home.
Utilize the self check-out when you can
In order to minimize your contact with others, opt for self check-out if available. Make sure to use an antimicrobial wipe to wipe down any surfaces that you will touch during the process.
Take a wipe to go
Grab another wipe on your way out of the store to wipe down any surfaces in your car that you touch frequently, including the steering wheel and gear shifter. This can help to avoid germ transfer from the store to your home.
Wash Your Hands- Wash your hands as soon as you can after you’ve touched so many items at the grocery store
Clean Packages Before Putting Away- A study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that the novel coronavirus can remain on plastics and stainless steel surfaces for up to three days, and on cardboard for up to one day. The virus is killed by heat not cold so remember to wipe your freezer items as well.
Rinse your produce – According to the FDA, all you need to get your fresh produce clean for consumption is water. Fill your sink with water and use a vegetable scrubber to remove dirt, germs, and pesticides. Do not use soap, as that could cause stomach upset.
Packaged Foods in Boxes- Remove interior packaging from the box and dispose of the box.
Picking up takeout
There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging, according to the CDC and the FDA. While the virus may last on the packaging for a few days, the general consensus is that the concentration of virus particles would be low and very unlikely to cause infection.
Many food delivery services are moving to contactless drop-offs or encouraging customers to take advantage of drop-off instructions to minimize the chance of spreading the virus.
When you stop for takeout:
Pay with a credit card and not cash.
Clean your hands with hand sanitizer or wipes after you have brought your takeout to your car.
Getting home these practices may make you feel reassured:
Wipe down the bag and food container
Surfaces can hold germs longer than the air. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure you wipe down the handles of the bag your food arrives in, as well as the outside of the food container before you start to eat.
Transfer food to a plate or bowl instead of eating out of the container
Take another step and transfer the food to a plate or bowl you own to avoid having the take-out container on your table. Throw out the bags that the food comes in and disinfect your tables and counters before and after you eat.
Wash your hands in between steps!
Be sure to wash your hands after touching the food container to avoid the transfer of germs to your mouth when you eat. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
You may want to microwave food for 30 seconds.
No matter where you go and what you bring home, get in the habit of washing your hands frequently throughout the day. Always wash your hands when you come in from outside and before and after eating. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Handwashing and avoiding touching your face are two of the best ways to prevent the virus from spreading.