Coronavirus tips: How to handle groceries during the pandemic

A Rutgers University professor shared how to handle groceries safely at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

If concerned about the outside of food packages being contaminated, wash or sanitize hands before eating the contents, suggested Donald W. Schaffner, a distinguished professor in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences’ Department of Food Science.

“And guess what?” Schaffner said in a statement. “Washing your hands before you eat is a best practice even when we’re not in a pandemic.

“Soap should absolutely not be used to wash food,” he continued. “It’s not designed for that. Soap can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. Current recommendations by scientific experts, including the FDA and USDA, say to wash fresh fruits and vegetables in cold water.”

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Donald W. Schaffner shares tips on how to safely handle groceries during the pandemic. (Photo: ~Courtesy of FDA)

Another important bit of advice to consider is whether it’s appropriate to even go to the grocery store at all, Schaffner said.

According to the CDC, older adults and people of any age with serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Schaffner suggested they use a shopping service or having a family member or neighbor do shop, while practicing appropriate social distancing when receiving groceries.

“For people going to grocery stores, many are offering hand sanitizers at the entrance and are offering to sanitize grocery carts,” Schaffner said. “I think these are two great ideas, and customers should take advantage of both of them.

“My other advice is to make a list, so you know what you want,” he continued. “Keep moving and get out of the way as you move through the store picking out the items on your list. Practice appropriate social distancing, trying your best to keep 6 feet away from other shoppers. If there is hand sanitizer available, I use it when I’m exiting the store, and then I’ll use it again at home once I finish putting all my groceries away and returning my reusable shopping bags to the car.”

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It’s a best practice even before the pandemic to wash your reusable bags on a regular basis, Schaffner said.

While it’s theoretically possible that a reusable bag may pick up COVID-19 while in the grocery store, the biggest threat that anyone faces is someone else in the store who has the virus, he said.

(At present, epidemic prevention supplies are in short supply. Our store specially looks for a batch of safe masks and hand sanitizers for customers. If you need them, you can consult us by email.)


Post time: Apr-06-2020