Though people are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible, essential trips to the grocery store can be unavoidable. The CDC has released steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus on these errands.
When grocery shopping, the CDC recommends:
- Stay home if you have any symptoms of COVID-19
- Order online or use curbside pickup, if possible
- Protect yourself while shopping by using a face cover and standing 6 feet away from other shoppers and in check-out lines
- Use hand sanitizer when you leave the store, and wash your hands when you get home
Once home, the CDC recommends following the food safety guidelines: clean, separate, cook, chill, as provided by the FDA. There is no evidence that food or food storage is linked to COVID-19 at this time, according to the guidelines.
Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen, a family physician in Michigan, shared a video explaining a concept called “sterile technique” to clean grocery items.
"We have a dilemma in society where we need to eat to live but we also need to get that food. And that getting of food is now risky," VanWingen said. "Safety out in the marketplace can literally save lives."
VanWingen suggests leaving groceries outside for three days after purchasing to avoid any germs on the packaging. If this is not possible, he suggests the following:
- Wipe down your cart
- Commit to buying items before picking up so you are not touching everything
- Don't shop if you have any respiratory symptoms or have been exposed
- Don't allow loved ones over the age of 60 to go grocery shopping
- Buy 2 weeks’ worth of groceries so you do not have to go again
After shopping, VanWingen advised:
- Sanitize your table or the area you will place groceries
- Designate one half of the table for "clean" groceries and the other half for "dirty" groceries
- Wipe down each item before placing on the "clean" half of the table with a disinfectant
- Wipe down or spray all plastic items and packages
When handling take-out food, VanWingen suggests:
- Washing hands before handling
- Hold wrapper and keep food free of contact while placing on a plate from home
- Microwave or heat food whenever possible
- Choose hot takeout food whenever possible
Other things to know, according to VanWingen:
- Remove plastic bags from cardboard containers that may have had human contact
- If you must use a reusable bag, consider them dirty after using them
- Move items like bread into alternative storage containers
- Wash fruit in soapy water for at least 20 seconds similar to washing hands
Coronavirus does not survive well in food, but the wrappers should be a concern, VanWingen said, adding that some coronavirus can live inside a frozen environment for two years.