Cleaning your Groceries During The COVID-19 Pandemic: Here’s How-To
Members of the public are advised by The CDC to put on cloth face masks in public settings. This is of great importance because maintaining social distancing is hard when you’re in public. Wearing cloth face masks will minimize the spread of the virus from asymptomatic carriers (people who have the virus but do not show the symptoms) or people who have the virus but do not know. While wearing cloth masks, ensure that you also practice social distancing. You can read the CDC-approved guidelines for making facemasks at home here.
Note: N95 respirators and surgical masks are critical instruments at this point and should be reserved for healthcare workers.
Nearly all countries of the world have imposed a lockdown order on its citizens due to the 2019 coronavirus pandemic. Everyone has to stay at home except for those doing essential activities like shopping for groceries, exercising, seeking medical attention, or walking their dog.
When leaving your house, you must take precautionary measures like washing your hands well and practicing social distancing.
Here’s the thing – shopping for groceries is somehow risky.
While shopping for groceries during the coronavirus pandemic, you are near other people. Also, the goods you are buying may have been touched by others – or even coughed and sneezed on.
We’re not discouraging you from going to the supermarket. No! That wouldn’t be a great option.
But you can be a bit more careful when shopping for groceries so that the virus doesn’t spread to your homes.
Do groceries constitute a risk?
One of the biggest risks you will encounter while shopping for groceries during the COVID-19 pandemic is making contact with a sick person.
So, the importance of staying at least six feet away from everyone at all times cannot be overemphasized.
Politely tell anyone who is standing close to you in line to step back. On the other hand, you can step aside and allow those in front of you to get what they want (if they are standing by the item that you want).
We do not have a full understanding of the role played by food and product packaging in transmitting the SARS-CoV-2.
However, the World Health Organization has stated that in addition to making close contact with people, the virus can also be contracted by touching surfaces that have been contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.
Some surfaces may be riskier than others.
A 2020 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has discovered that the virus responsible for COVID-19 was detectable on stainless steel and plastic for a maximum of 72 hours and up to 24 hours on cardboard.
When you are shopping at the grocery, you’re better off assuming that all surfaces have been touched by an infected person. All surfaces include packaged foods and produce.
Take only the items you’re interested in buying, wipe the basket handles and cart handles with disinfectant wipes, then use a hand sanitizer after you’re done.
You can reduce your risk of exposure by using at-home delivery or curbside pick-up. These services are offered even by local food producers.
Some farmers allow preorders, so they can get the food packaged by the time you come for them. This reduces the amount of time you spend close to other people. It also reduces the number of items you can touch.
How to clean your groceries at home during the COVID-19 pandemic
You must handle your groceries with care when you get them home. By so doing, you will minimize the chances of spreading the virus to other surfaces or other people at home.
You must wash your hands once you’re done unpacking your groceries.
If you have fears about contamination, you can take some extra steps to protect yourself.
You may wash your boxes of food or cans of food before storing them. This will help to reduce its potential virus content. You can also discard all disposable packaging.
Wash any countertops, tables, or surfaces on which you may have placed your grocery bags or groceries.
After cleaning, wash your hands again.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given guidelines for disinfecting and cleaning your home during the 2019 coronavirus pandemic. They have also offered advice on which cleaners are most effective against SARS-CoV-2.
If you use cloth bags for shopping, ensure that they are washed with laundry soap and thoroughly dried before reuse.
How to clean your food like a surgeon
Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen, a Grand Rapids, Michigan-family physician has made an educating, and very enlightening YouTube video about the “sterile technique.” This technique is recommended for people who are at high risk for severe illnesses.
According to VanWingen, one of the key options is to keep your groceries in your porch or garage for up to 72 hours. When the virus stays on a surface for 72 hours, it becomes inactive.
Many people may find this impossible to do. So, that’s where the sterile technique comes in handy. This can also be done after standing your groceries in the garage for 72 hours.
Another key point given by Dr. VanWingen is constructing a small cleaning station to prevent the contamination of your food or other surfaces at home.
Then you wipe every surface with a disinfectant before storing the groceries. Packaging should be discarded, while the food should be transferred to a container or a clean bag.
Vegetables and fruits should be scrubbed for 20 seconds with water and soap.
However, he cautions that the FDA does not recommend the use of soap for cleaning groceries during COVID-19 due to the risk of ingestion.
So, if you clean your produce with water and soap, then rinse them very well before storing them.
By following these precautions, you can minimize the chances of exposing your groceries to the virus.
If you are sick, then you’ll have to be more careful so that you don’t get your family infected.
Tonika Bruce, MSN, RN, MBA. is an accomplished nurse leader, published author, and personal development expert passionate about advancing healthcare management and quality patient outcomes.
She taps into the years of experience in healthcare management to produce credible and easy-to-understand health and leadership content. Her exceptional work has been featured in reputable publications, including Forbes, Recruiter, Inc, and the Color of Wellness magazine.