How to clean your groceries during COVID-19? It is the most searched question on Google. After the operations of the countries around the world came to a halt during the lockdown, people have fear to go out. But, the need for essential items has resulted in people overcoming their fear to go food shopping. While some people know the seriousness of coronavirus infection, many still feel it may not affect them.
Among the concern surrounding the outbreak, the one that most people ask is the spread of the virus from the groceries you get at the supermarket. It is a concern that haunts many as you never know who has handled the items before it reached the supermarket or who touched in the aisle of the supermarket. Purchasing and using the essential products from the supermarket is shrouded in fear. So, read ahead to know how to keep your trip and purchase safe from infection.
Safe Purchase Of Groceries During COVID-19
By now most people have become aware of the serious situation caused due to coronavirus. So, everyone diligently follows the instructions suggested by the WHO to use a mask and maintain social distancing while going out. The most effective method to keep the virus away is by washing your hands with soap and water frequently. But, staying at home all the time is not possible as you have to step out of your home at some point to buy essentials. So, how safe is going outside to purchase essentials? Supermarkets are busy places that are filled with several numbers of people. The products in the different aisles of the supermarket are touched by a number of people. Several of them may carry the virus (knowingly or unknowingly).
Risks Of Grocery Purchase
While retailers are trying their best to employ different preventive measures to keep the shoppers as well as their staff safe, you need to take follow social distancing to keep the spread of infections at bay. During the lockdown period, most people have avoided going out except for essential activities like exercising, seeking medical care, walking their dog, or to get the essential items from supermarkets. So, why do the experts say that you have to maintain caution while shopping? Here are the reasons why shopping for groceries during the COVID-19 outbreak carries risk:
- You are shopping along with other people who may or may not have coronavirus infections. Since you are not aware of the current medical status of your co-shoppers, you are at risk of getting affected by the virus when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.
- Apart from the risk of shopping with others, you also face high chances of infection due to touching the products on the supermarket aisle. These items are handled by others and can have the presence of virus due to coughing or sneezing by them.
These issues increase exposure to coronavirus. It does not mean that you need to give up on your trips to the supermarket. It is not a viable option as you need essential groceries to feed yourself and your family. So, the best method to protect yourself whenever you leave home is by practicing social distancing and washing your hands before as well as after your trip to the supermarket. Along with that, you need to take extra care while handling the groceries to avoid spreading the virus to surfaces in your house and other people.
Why Do You Need To Clean Your Groceries During The COVID-19 Outbreak?
Coronavirus is killing people around the globe. The contagious virus causes serious problems leading to death. So, people fear going out or spend time with other people as it increases the risk of virus transmission. People also fear to get essential groceries. But, it is unclear how much the food and food packaging plays in virus transmission. The WHO has issued warning against coming in close contact with people in places like supermarkets. It has also mentioned the possibility of picking up the virus from contaminated surfaces and then transferring it to their body by touching eyes, nose, or mouth. Unfortunately, some surfaces pose a bigger risk compared to others. According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, coronavirus can stay alive on stainless steel and plastic surfaces for 72 hours and 24 hours on the cardboard surface.
So, when you visit supermarkets, you need to assume that all the surfaces, cardboard, stainless steel, glass, or plastic surface may have virus presence. It is because a sick person can touch the surface and transfer the virus. Therefore, people who purchase things at the supermarket can unknowingly bring the virus home and spread it to their family members. Things including packaged foods and fresh produce can become the carrier of coronavirus. Therefore, it is essential to clean the groceries during the COVID-19 outbreak. By taking precautions, you can reduce the chances of infection spread.
Does Coronavirus Live On Food?
Since we have covered the risk associated with shopping for products, you now may wonder about the food item. So, is it possible to get it possible to contract the virus by eating food? Scientists believe it is possible for the virus to survive on food like other surfaces, it dies off soon. Since the virus cannot survive on food any longer than another surface, you can quit worrying. Therefore, you never face the added risk posed by eating food contaminated with the small amounts of coronavirus. The probability of contracting the virus in such a manner is really low. It does not mean you can avoid any caution. Follow the steps suggested below to ensure food safety:
- Cook food at the right temperature for the specified time to ensure the heat kills all the dangerous pathogens. Heat the food before reusing it.
- Always practice good hygiene before having your food. So, wash your hand thoroughly with soap and water before you prepare, cook, or eating food.
- Keep all the equipment and surfaces clean. Wipe down the surfaces and equipment with disinfectant after making food. It avoids the bacteria from growing and spreading onto your food.
Overcoming The Danger Of Buying Groceries During The COVID-19
As you have read through the article, you may fear going out or to buy groceries. While fear of infection during COVID-19 is not irrational, you can deal with it effectively by taking some steps. These reduce your risk of getting the infection:
- People’s biggest fear while visiting the supermarket is coming in close contact with people suffering from the coronavirus infection. To overcome the risk, you need to practice social distancing. Stay at least six feet away from people all the time.
- If someone is not following the line or they are too close to you, talk to them to maintain the distance. It is also essential to wait for a few moments to grab an item when someone else if already checking it out.
- Use a mask while going out. Opting for a cloth or surgical mask will reduce the risk of infection from spreading to others. So, asymptomatic people using masks lower the chances of spreading the infection when they are in public places.
- Touch only the items you plan to buy and use antibacterial wipes to wipe down the basket or cart handles. Use gloves if possible and dispose of it after use. Wash your hands or hand sanitizer after your visit to the supermarket.
- You can also opt for pick-up or home delivery options to reduce exposure to other people. Many local food producers offer such services. Just check if it is available in your locality and make use of it.
- Some farmers’ markets allow their customers to preorder foods. So, they are packed to make it easier for the customers to come and pick them up. Such actions reduce the time you need to spend near other people and lower the number of items you need to touch for purchasing.
Steps To Clean Your Groceries During COVID-19 Outbreak At Home
Irrespective of the way you get your groceries from the supermarket, you must handle them carefully. So, when you get these products home, you have to take ample precautions to prevent any chance of spreading the virus to vulnerable people at your home or on the frequently used surface at home.
Basic Hygiene Practices
You need to follow the basic hygiene practices while you handle groceries during the COVID-19 outbreak. While no evidence suggests the transmission of coronavirus from the packaging to humans, you need to maintain caution. With ample precautionary measures, you can prevent any complications. So, follow the pointers suggested below to reduce the risk of infection:
- When you handle the groceries, it is possible for the virus to transfer to your hand surface. So, you need to wash your hands before and after unpacking and putting the groceries away.
- If you feel suspicious regarding the contamination of your groceries, then you need to wash or wipe the cans as well as boxes you get delivered.
- It is important to throw out the disposable packaging inside the closed garbage bins.
- Wash the countertops, tables, or other surfaces you have used to place the grocery or grocery bags. Never leave any surface touched by the groceries as you have to wipe it clean and disinfect to avoid the spread of coronavirus infection.
- After handling groceries, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Lather your hands with soap and rub your hands together for at least twenty seconds. Never leave the area between your fingers or nails. Rub the back surface of your hand. Rinse off with water.
Cleaning And Sanitizing
When you handle or clean your groceries during the COVID-19 outbreak, ensure you give importance to cleaning as well as disinfecting the surfaces in your home. Cleaning and sanitizing offer effective protection against SARS-CoV-2. So, you can follow the steps suggested below to ensure after shopping, you keep all the areas clean to avoid infection:
- If you are using cloth bags to purchase products from the supermarket, then you need to wash them after your shopping trip. Wash the cloth bags with laundry shops in a washing machine or with hands. Then, dry them thoroughly before you reuse them.
- For a safe shopping experience, you need to keep a sanitizer in hand. It is essential to use it after your shopping in a supermarket. Avoid touching surfaces in public places. If you have touched them, then use sanitizer (when soap and water are unavailable). Use sanitizer after touching shopping carts, handles, other surfaces, or payment machines.
- Try to make cashless payments as exchanging money can increase the risk of infection spread. Use credit or debit cards and wipe the card before and after use with sanitizing wipes.
- When you go out for shopping, you need to wear disposable gloves. While it is not a compulsory requirement, it reduces the risk of transfer of coronavirus from a surface to your hands.
Healthy Shopping Experience
For avoiding any problems, you need to make sure only one member of the house goes out to buy groceries. The healthiest person must go out to buy essentials. Once you come back from the shopping trip, you need to leave the shopping containers outside. Talk a shower to wash off any harmful pathogens accumulated on your skin. Since the biggest risk of shopping for essentials in a supermarket is the time you spend there around other people. So, keep your visits sorted and short.
Precautions For Fresh Goods
While we have covered the cleaning of groceries during the COVID-19, you may have doubts regarding the handling of fresh goods. For unwrapped fresh produces that is handled by anyone, you need to wash it properly. While it is not necessary to use soap or detergent to wash fruits and vegetables, you need to ensure it is washed thoroughly under running water. Leave to dry and then use. You can also use ozone-based cleansers developed specifically for cleaning fruits as well as vegetables. You can also soap fruits and vegetables in lemon/saltwater or diluted vinegar solution for a few hours. Allow it to dry.
While using detergent is suggested by certain experts, it is not suitable for all. It is because some people can have trouble difficulty ingesting fruits or vegetables washed with soap/detergent. Avoid using a bleach solution or disinfectant to wash the fruits and vegetables.
Effective Method To Clean Your Groceries During The COVID-19
What is the effective method to clean your groceries during the COVID-19 outbreak? Cleaning your grocery with the precision of a surgeon. So, if you or someone at your home is vulnerable to the coronavirus infection, then adopting a more sterile technique will help you avoid it. People who live with elderly members, small children, or people with underlying health conditions need to follow a thorough cleaning method to avoid catching the virus. Here is the suggestion for thorough and efficient cleaning:
- Since the research indicates that coronavirus can survive on the plastic surface for 72 hours (3 days) and cardboard surface for 24 hours (one day), you need to use the items after the suggested duration.
- You can spray and wipe the plastic or glass surfaces/containers using carefully diluted bleach.
- A key part of avoiding transmission of the virus from groceries is to set a cleaning station. You can clean your groceries during the COVID-19 in the specific cleaning station. It avoids contamination of other surfaces in the house or your food.
- You need to wipe down all packaging before putting the grocery away. For wiping the packaging use disinfectant. If you are planning to discard the packaging, then transfer the contents into a clean bag or container.
- When cleaning fruits and vegetables, you need to soak them in diluted vinegar or lemon/saltwater and scrub them well before drying it off. Never choose soap or detergent to clean the fresh produce as it can cause ingestion.
These tips can offer protection as it lowers your risk of getting exposed to the virus. But, even after taking all precautions, if someone in your family shows signs of coronavirus infection, then take extra care. You need to help them see a doctor and isolate them from other members of the family. If the diagnosis comes back positive or waiting for test results, then ensure extra cleaning as well as disinfecting the surfaces around the home.
Other Precautions To Take While Shopping For Groceries During COVID-19 At The Supermarket
As we are on the topic of how to clean your groceries during COVID-19, you need to understand the risk associated with visiting the supermarkets. The public place may have other members of the public who may or may not have the infection. To ensure you remain safe in the public setting, it is important to follow the government’s suggested social distancing guidelines. You need to keep at least two meters distance from the other person shopping. Always maintain the distance to ensure you shop without any fear. This guideline applies to both inside the store and the external public region like parking spaces. Many countries around the world have imposed strict guidelines to ensure every customer visiting the supermarket remains safe. The steps taken include:
- Regulating the number of customers entering the supermarket at a time.
- Fixing the working time for the supermarkets.
- Using the floor marking at the till points.
- Making regular announcements to ensure customers maintain social distancing.
- Placing barriers at checkpoints.
- You can also choose to eliminate any further risk of infection by washing your hands properly with soap and water immediately before and after visiting the supermarket. Apart from that, you need to ensure the following pointers while you shopping in the supermarket:
- Never touch your face after handling shopping baskets, trollies, packages, and vegetable/fruit produce.
- If possible wear gloves while you shop. Even when you wear gloves, you need to avoid touching your face after touching trolley handles as it can transmit the virus from the trolley surface to your body through nose, mouth, and eyes. Discard the gloves in a close garbage bin after use and wash your hands properly.
Safety Of Home Delivery Of Groceries During COVID-19 Outbreak
Apart from learning how to clean your groceries during COVID-19, you must also learn the safety of home deliveries. If you are not feeling good about going out to buy groceries, then the next viable option to get the essential items is to opt for home delivery. Many people consider home delivery as a less risky option compared to going to supermarkets. It is because it eliminates the risk of coming in contact with other shoppers.
Several supermarkets even online platforms like Amazon offers you a contactless delivery option. It means your shopping is left in a safe place like the back of your car or your porch. Once the driver leaves, you can collect the groceries. It is one of the safest options as you can avoid the fear of getting the infection from others. If it is not an option, you need to remember social distancing while receiving the delivery. So, maintain a distance of at least two meters between the driver and the person receiving the delivery. It will help avoid the transmission of the virus from the produce or cover to your hands.
Safety Of Ordering Takeaways During COVID-19 Outbreak
Many countries while extending lockdown has allowed restaurants to provide food deliveries as well as takeaways. But, people are not allowed to eat food by sitting in restaurants, pubs, cafes, and bars. It has allowed many such eateries to allow delivery and takeaways. But, are the food delivered safely to you? Is it wise to order food that is prepared somewhere else? Most countries have issued a regulation that every outlet has to follow while delivering food orders. The instructions include:
- Knowing the importance of frequent cleaning and disinfecting the surfaces and objects your staff touch. It is important to follow the instructions to keep the area clean and germs-free.
- Employees must wash their hands before and after they prepare food. It is essential to practice good hygiene while preparing food.
- Handling areas must remain free from germs or other harmful pathogens.
Steps To Stay Safe From Virus Transmission From Packages
Following the instructions properly ensures that you have a minimal risk when you get freshly cooked takeaway meals. Apart from ensuring the food is cooked according to the safety guidelines, the enterprises must also follow certain steps to make sure it is delivered without any issues. So, people delivering food to the home of customers must follow proper hygiene practices. If you are concerned about the takeaway packaging, then follow the steps to ensure you feel safe:
- After you get the food, you need to empty the content into a clean dish. Then, dispose of the packaging into the closed garbage bin. Then, you need to wash your hands thoroughly before you start eating.
- When you take the food out of the container, use a spoon. Eat the food using spoon, fork, and knife. Try to avoid using your fingers to eat.
Many of the delivery services like Grubhub, Swiggy, Zomato, and others now offer you a contact-free delivery option. So, you can get the food ordered without coming in contact with the other. It eliminates the need for direct contact for both parties, which reduces the risk of spread of infection. In addition to the suggested precautionary measures, many of the food outlets follow contactless procedures during the time of delivery. So, practicing it eliminates the risk of coming in contact with harmful pathogens. Paying online is encouraged to avoid such issues. But, some customers prefer cash on delivery option. In such cases, you can handle money in an envelope. Another option is using the pre-sanitized card swiping device to make payments using your debit cards. The transparent cover of the device eliminates the risk of surface transfer.
Every country around the world has responded dutifully to the lockdown and the necessary precautions suggested to defeat COVID-19. Almost everyone is staying in their homes and practicing social distancing. But, is it safe to assume that you have eliminated the risk of coronavirus infection? While washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene can avoid such infections, what about groceries? Instead of wondering what-ifs after contracting the disease, you can learn how to clean your groceries during the COVID-19 outbreak. By cleaning and disinfecting everything that comes from outside, you avoid leaving everything to chance. With such effective preventive measures and social distancing, you can stay safe.