Shopping during the coronavirus can be a challenge. But there are several protocols to follow -- and some not to follow.
Kansas State University extension agent Karen Blakeslee said shoppers do not need to wipe down packages when they get them home.
“Cleaning food packages or washing fresh produce with soap is not recommended,” she said. “Fresh produce can be safely washed and scrubbed in plain water. After handling packages, simply wash your hands again before food preparation.”
The CDC agrees. On their COVID-19 site, the agency states, “There is no evidence that food or food packaging has been linked to getting sick from COVID-19.”
Blakeslee said consumers do not need to leave groceries in the garage for a few days before bringing them inside.
She said in her newsletter, leaving them sitting outside, “can have some serious food safety implications for perishable foods such as milk and meat. There is some indication that COVID-19 can inactivate at room temperature (such as while sitting in a garage), but all groceries would have to be contaminated” for this to be a recommended safety measure.
Instead of leaving groceries in a garage or other outside location, Blakeslee suggests washing your hands, putting groceries away safely, then washing your hands again.
K-State’s COVID-19 food safety pages states, “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.”
The CDC gives the following advice for grocery shopping
•Stay 6 feet away from others
•Cover your mouth and nose with cloth face covering
•Go during off hours
•If you are at higher risk, shop during special hours
•Disinfect the shopping cart
•Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth
•Use hand sanitizer right after paying.
•After leaving the store, use hand sanitizer. When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
According to Blakeslee, reusable bags should be washed often to keep them clean. She also suggested throwing away plastic bags.