The coronavirus outbreak has meant that we have all had to significantly change our lifestyles, and the way we shop for groceries has to be one of the biggest changes.
Thanks to panic buying and social distancing, you’re probably finding that popping to the shops has become much more of an ordeal than it ever used to be. But, if you can actually find any food on the shelves, is it safe to bring it into your home?
We’re all washing our hands much more frequently, even washing our phones to try to stop the spread of dangerous germs. We’ve also been told that the post that falls through the letterbox might need to be disposed of after reading to limit the risk.
So, what about your food shop? Do you need to spray down your bags of pasta? Wash your packets of loo roll? Chuck your cherry tomatoes in the bath?
Dr Perpetua Emeagi, a lecturer in Human Biology and Biological Sciences at Liverpool Hope University, told Metro.co.uk that handling letters and parcels is an ‘open invitation’ for coronavirus to spread.
‘Surfaces like cardboard and plastic are now known to be an effective safe-haven for coronavirus – precisely the sort of thing used to package parcels and letters,’ she told us. ‘And if you’re leaving your post around your home, bringing into your kitchen and communal areas, you’re leaving yourself open to infection.’
Does the same apply for food packaging?
The good news is that food packaging appears to be incredibly low risk.
There are no special measures recommended around bringing shopping into your home currently, and the NHS says, ‘It’s very unlikely [coronavirus] can be spread through things like packages or food.’
However, the biggest risk with grocery shopping is still from being in the shops themselves.
That’s why it’s so important to practise social distancing, queue with two meters between you, and observe all markings on the ground about where you should be standing.
There are lots of things in shops that you might touch that could be high risk – from the handles of trolleys and baskets, to self check-out machines. So the best thing to do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe is to make sure you are washing your hands thoroughly as soon as you get home, and avoiding touching your face.
For extra safety, wash your hands after putting your groceries away, and always wash your hands before eating.
A viral video by a doctor from Michigan, U.S showed him advising leaving groceries outside for three days to disinfect them. He also said each individual item should be disinfected.
But other experts have contradicted him and said it is dangerous to leave fresh food unrefrigerated for days. They also explained that the virus can probably only live on surfaces like cardboard for around 24 hours at most.
They said wiping tins and plastic is OK if you feel particularly anxious, but they reiterate that washing your hands before cooking and eating is the best practise.
It’s also important to thoroughly wash fruit and veg before cooking with them or eating – but don’t be tempted to use soap.
Eating residue of soap on your vegetables can make you sick, and official guidelines say that rinsing fresh veg and fruit with cold water before peeling is the best thing to do.
‘Soap should absolutely not be used to wash food. It’s not designed for that. Soap can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested,’ food science specialist Donald Schaffner told NJ Advance Media.
If you want to limit the potentially dirty items that you are bringing into your home after shopping for groceries, why not bring your own bags from home. But remember that re-usable grocery bags should be cleaned regularly with antibacterial wipes or in the washing machine.
You can also remove any excessive packaging and throw it away or recycle it immediately – and use your own air-tight containers instead.
The key thing to remember is that personal hygiene is more important than ever, but the experts say that groceries are a very small risk to your health.
It is much more important to wash your hands, follow social distancing guidelines and cook healthy, nutritious food.
Coronavirus latest news and updates
- Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live
- Read all new and breaking stories on our Covid-19 news page
- Coronavirus symptoms explained
- Find out the latest on which shops can stay open in a lockdown
- Who needs to go to work, who needs to stay at home and who is classed as a key worker?
Source: Read Full Article