No, You Don’t Need to Disinfect Your Groceries. But Here’s How to Shop Safely

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the whole world and since there is still no vaccine against it many governments issued lockdowns in order to prevent its spreading. People have become afraid of the possible contraction and as a preventive measure they have started to shop online. Naturally, there is still the need to go to the markets as stocking food is not an option. Just now you need to be more organized.

Your shopping should not be stressful and here are some tips that will make it more relaxing.

7 Tips How to Shop Safely and Calmly

1.     Have an efficient shopping plan

You should not stay in the shop longer than you are supposed to, and in order to quickly finish the shopping you need a good plan. The list of your groceries should be concise and well organized, meaning all meat products are in one column, all the dairy products in one column so that you do not wonder in the shop returning to the shelf where you have previously been.

Donald Shaffer, a food microbiologist and professor at Rutgers University, stated to NPR:

“Be as efficient as possible in the store. Have a list. Move through the store quickly and efficiently. Get out of the way. Be respectful of other people. Maintain social distance while you’re in the store.”

Being efficient will help you to finish the shopping quickly in the markets, but have in mind that you need to practice social distancing, keeping a distance of six feet, especially when going down an aisle with too many people. If there are many people, just move along to a different aisle and on the way back check if the section is with less people.

2.     Implement social distancing with grocery store employees as well

The health care workers are our modern heroes but also are the grocery store employees who are at immediate contact with great number of people. They are at the greatest risk of contracting COVID-19 hence we should respect the rule of social distancing when we need to ask them something. We recommend using a self-checkout that allows you to keep a six-foot distance from other people and thus pay for your groceries. However, some stores have not this option, but it is a good thing that some have installed plexiglass barriers between cashiers and customers, which helps in protecting the customers and workers from the virus.

3.     Have your protective mask on, but skip the gloves

By wearing a mask you are helping in preventing the spread of the virus. Many people might have it but not being aware of it as they are in the group that does not show any symptoms. In this way we are taking care of each other and because of that the mouth and the nose need to get covered.

Latex gloves are one of the preventive measures against COVID-19 provided if they are used accordingly. If they are not used as they should be than they are not longer effective preventive measure.

Schaffner reported to NPR: “Gloves are not magic.”

He continues:  “Gloves don’t make you invulnerable. As soon as you touch something with your gloved hand, that contamination is on the gloves.”

Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said to NPR that instead of wearing gloves, one should sanitize the hands before going into the store, after leaving, and when arriving home. This practice she follows regularly and states that is effective.

4.     Carry hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in your bag

Having hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in your bag whenever you are outside is a great tip. Once you are in the store, you should clean your hands, but as well as the cart or basket handles. The best would be to wipe them off them once again at the end of your shopping trip and return them to their designated place.

5.     Opt for online shopping whenever is possible

Online shopping for groceries would be the best way to avoid unnecessary contact with many people. However, not every part of the country has the option for grocery delivery or store pickup. Plus, if there is a possibility, the demand for this service is higher than ever before, and you should wait longer for your groceries. This type of shopping also needs good planning with a list that should be double checked so that you do not forget anything.

6.     Don’t worry too much about disinfecting the groceries

After we have purchased the groceries many of us wonder how long we need to wipe them out so that they are safe for use. According to experts we should not stress out about this as there is a low probability of getting infected from food packaging. Experts state that once the virus is on a surface, its infectiousness starts to get lower.

Dr. David Aronoff, a director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, stated the following to NPR: “Time is really on your side here. After 24 hours, the vast majority of virus is no longer infectious.”

What is most important is the regular and frequent washing of your hands, especially after unpacking the groceries, prior cooking and eating. As a preventive you can disinfect your counters after you have finished with putting the groceries away.

7.     Rinse fresh produce with water

Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential ingredients in our diet that keep our health and immunity on a higher level, so this produce should not be avoided.

Being afraid that the virus will be on your fruits and veggies is meaningless as the chances are minimal. But, if you want to wash them, make sure not to use soap. Soap residues can cause diarrhea and vomiting, just rinse them in cold water or use a specially made produce wash.