In the current time pandemic of COVID-19 disease, the biggest issue that common people are affected with is difficulty in handling grocery items. We can’t get rid of day to day grocery requirements which is the basic necessity of human life to survive. However, by following some tips to clean groceries during the COVID-19 outbreak one can ensure safety and prevent their risk of contracting the new coronavirus through contaminated grocery items.
SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that has caused COVID-19 disease can live on certain surfaces for up to 72 hours including different grocery items. However with extra care, while handling these grocery products everyone can reduce their risk of exposure. The healthcare experts suggest following few simple steps mentioned in this article to keep yourself safe and protected against the risk of developing the new coronavirus borne infection which is a highly contagious disease.
Tips to Protect Yourself from Grocery Store Workers and Other Workers
- Make sure that you prepare your shopping list quite earlier before the actual shopping date and time so that you won’t have to suffer from the last moment rush.
- Though this is the pandemic time but this doesn’t mean that you would start shopping more than your necessity. Buying groceries just for about one to two week’s requirement at a time is enough. This is because if you purchase in bulk then it can create an unusual shortage in the market, leading to an increase in demand and a rise in product price thereon in the market.
- Make sure that you cover your nose and mouth by wearing your face mask while going to a store. Follow strictly the rules governed by your state and country government while visiting a grocery store in order to prevent the risk of spreading the new coronavirus from person to person. Also, follow other guidelines of your country for any other special requirement that needed to be followed by the common public.
- Wipe down the shopping cart or basket handle either with your own wipes or with the wipes provided by the store to ensure safety. Also while using a reusable shopping bag make sure that you wash it before each use so that there would be no risk of contamination in any form.
- Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet with everyone around including other buyers, shop keepers, and store employees while shopping from a store. Also, keep your hands away from your face to reduce and prevent your contamination risk.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water at least for 20 seconds after returning to your home from the shopping store and after putting the groceries.
- Though there is no evidence found for food packaging associated contamination of the new coronavirus to date still for ensuring extra level protection you can prefer to wipe down the packaging of products and let them air dry.
Food Safety Practices that Need to be Followed for Preventing Foodborne Illnesses
There are several diseases that can spread through infected food items easily including the new coronavirus induced disease. So to prevent this risk you should follow the below-mentioned food safety practices for preventing your risk of foodborne illnesses:
- Before eating any raw foods like fruits or before cooking vegetables, clean and wash them under running tap water. This particular practice should also be applied with fruits and vegetables with skins and rinds that people don’t eat. To scrub the firm produce use a clean produce brush. While having a canned product makes sure that you clean its lid before opening it.
- Make sure that you unpack the purchased grocery items, freeze meat, eggs, poultry, seafood, lettuce, berries, mushrooms, and herbs within two hours of their purchasing.
- Every day clean and sanitize your kitchen tops and counters with a commercial disinfectant or with a homemade DIY sanitizing solution whichever is available to you. Mix your commercial disinfectant or DIY sanitizing solution with 5 tbsp unscented liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water and use it for cleaning or sanitizing your kitchen area. Caution- Do not use this DIY solution or any other disinfecting product in any food.
- To ensure complete food safety and protection always follow the four basic rules of food safety which include Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
Remember foods are always the primary sources of nourishment for the human body especially in this pandemic time when everyone needs to be empowered with a strong immunity which is only possible when you eat enough amount of nourishing foods. So its protection should always be given the top priority. The above-mentioned precaution will not only prevent the risk of COVID-19 disease but also of other foodborne illnesses.
How to Clean Your Groceries at Home?
No matter what sources you prefer to get your grocery requirement for home, it is very crucial to handle it in the right way. By handling your grocery item carefully you can reduce the risk of spreading the new coronavirus that has caused COVID-19 disease to a great extent not only to other people but also on different surfaces because this particular virus is viable to survive up to 72 hours on different surfaces.
One of the well-recognized health specialists says that as per the grocery product’s associated COVID-19 disease’s risk is concerned there are minimal chances involved that you contract this virus during unpacking or unwrapping a grocery item. However, if you want to take one extra step to reduce your chances of spreading or contracting this virus then wash your hands every time after unpacking or putting away all grocery products.
In order to minimize or prevent your risk of contaminating this virus disease, you can prefer to wipe out or wash the cans and food boxes before storing them at your home. This will wash out the possible virus content existing in cans or food boxes. Also do not store the disposable packaging rather than throw them out immediately.
Once all the above-mentioned steps are done then it’s time to clean and sanitize your countertops, tables, and other surfaces where you have kept your groceries or grocery bags before cleaning them. Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly after doing all these things.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends some cleaners to be used during the COVID-19 disease outbreak as the best possible option for washing and disinfecting grocery items and different potential surfaces.
If you are using your own cloth bags for carrying the grocery items then make sure that you wash these bags with laundry soap either with hand or in the washing machine and let it air dry thoroughly before each use.
While going to a grocery store or any other public place where it is difficult to maintain 6 feet distancing from others, it is crucial to wear your face mask to reduce your risk of contracting or spreading the virus especially from the people who have contracted this disease without any noticeable symptoms or who are unaware of the presence of this disease.
Some Important Shopping Tips During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Follow the below-mentioned shopping tips for essential items during the COVID-19 outbreak-
- Old age people, children, and people with weak immune power are highly at risk of contracting the new coronavirus disease. So for the shopping of a grocery item or other essential items preferably the healthiest member of a family should go out for the shopping purpose along with necessary precaution.
- Always keep a sanitizer with you while going out of your home place and keep sanitizing your hands every now and then you touch any surface either at the grocery store or of any other place. As much as it is possible avoids touching different surfaces.
- Sanitize your hands every time after touching a shopping cart, cart’s handle, and payment machine. If possible prefer making a cashless payment instead of using the currency exchange as a mode of payment. This practice can reduce the risk of spreading the new coronavirus from one person to another to a great extent
- If disposable gloves are available to you then use them every time while going out for the shopping purpose and dispose of it immediately after your work is done.
- After the completion of your shopping when you get back to your home place then try to leave the shopping bags outside of your home. Even this activity too has the potential to minimize the effect of any potential virus existing on the shopping containers.
- Once you get back to your home after shopping, the first thing that you should do is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and then take a shower after that. Do not wear the same clothes that you had worn outside and put them in the washing machine for cleaning purposes.
- Some preliminary researches report says that the new coronavirus can survive for 72 hours on plastic and for 24 hours on cardboard. So to prevent your risk of contamination try to use these items after this suspected duration. For minimizing your risk you should spray and wipe out the plastic or glass containers with diluted bleach very carefully.
- Clean the unwrapped food products or other essentials under running tap water and let it well air dry. This is highly essential because these products are handled by many people so it contains a high risk of containing the virus that has caused the COVID-19 disease. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that there is no need of washing fresh fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent. Instead of that one can use a vegetable cleanser or can soak these unwrapped fresh foods in salt, vinegar, or lemon water for a few hours. Still, few healthcare experts recommend washing fruits or vegetables with soap and water so, this is now a debatable concept. However, you should always avoid using a bleach solution for washing these fresh food items.
- Try to spend the least possible time in the grocery stores or while shopping in a big store as this is the high time when you contain the risk of contracting this virus disease as you have high interaction with other people during the shopping period. So try to visit these places as less as it is possible.
Some Important Tips to Keep in Mind
During the COVID-19 outbreak, you need to keep some important things in mind including-
- As old-age people have a high risk of contracting this infectious disease due to their weak immune power, so it is advised to people aging above 60 to get their groceries delivered at home. Also when the delivery person comes at your door-step ask him to leave the delivery bag outside so that you won’t have any close interaction with the delivery person.
- In case you are experiencing any symptoms that resemble the symptoms of the COVID-19 then stop going out for purchasing groceries or any other essential. Ask someone else in your family who is healthy enough to bring all the necessary essentials for home.
- Clean and sanitize all the high touch surfaces at home every day without fail. Some common highly touch surfaces include light switches, doorknobs, etc.
- Avoid going out unless it is an extreme situation. Also if you have to go out for some necessary purpose then make sure that you maintain social distancing of 6 feet from everyone around. Don’t leave your face mask at home at any cost. If disposable gloves are available to you then prefer wearing the same while going at a grocery store.
How big risk is associated with groceries?
Expert says that the biggest groceries related risk with regard to COVID-19 outbreak exists with the shopping at the supermarket. This is because it is one of the most crowded places in any city where it is extremely difficult to maintain 6 feet of social distancing from other shoppers or supermarket workers.
You don’t know who is healthy and who is sick over there. Especially, the risk remains with people who have developed this infectious disease without symptoms or who are unaware of the presence of this health condition in their body. This is the reason why it is always advised to maintain 6 feet distance from other people every time.
Do not hesitate to ask others to maintain the necessary distance if they are coming too close to you while standing in a queue. Choose to wait for some moment for collecting something if others are taking the same item making the place crowded.
This is not yet clear whether food packaging plays any role in contributing to or spreading the new coronavirus infection. Still, for the extra precaution, you should clean and wipe out the packaging to prevent any potential risk of contamination. Avoid touching all high touch surfaces at the supermarket or any other local grocery store. Also if you have to touch them or you touch them by mistake then make sure you do not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth after that without sanitizing your hands.
Health experts say that while on your visit to the supermarket you should consider that every surface is contaminated so you must avoid touching them. Keep your handy sanitizer with you every time and sanitize your hand every now and then you touch any surface.
Touch only the products that you are intended to purchase. Wipe out the cart and basket handles with a disinfectant wipe before touching them and then wash your hands if soap and water if available there or use your hand sanitizer.
So this way you can reduce and prevent any potential risk of contamination while on your visit to a supermarket or even in a local grocery store. The tips to clean groceries during the COVID-19 outbreak mentioned above are truly reliable. However, you should always maintain extra level precaution to prevent your risk of contracting the new coronavirus infection. Also immediately visit to your nearest healthcare center if you develop the symptoms of COVID-19 disease without making any delay.