5 Tips for Safe Grocery Shopping
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people are paying more attention to what they touch, how they breathe and their distance from other people. There’s no need for the coronavirus to impact what people eat, though, says a University of Illinois Extension educator.
No U.S. Food and Drug Administration evidence suggests coronavirus can spread through food, according to Jenna Smith, a registered dietitian and Extension educator on nutrition and wellness.
But grocery shopping should still involve practicing proper coronavirus-prevention tactics, like social distancing.
And washing your hands.
“Coronavirus is a respiratory virus. It can be transmitted through respiratory droplets, from coughing, from sneezing. So that can land on the food packaging itself,” Smith said. “So with that in mind, when you bring home food from the grocery store, you’re putting that into your refrigerator, you’re putting that into your cabinets, the most important thing to do is to wash your hands immediately afterward.”
Smith also offered these tips for minimizing exposure to coronavirus during and after shopping for food:
1. Keep groceries in the proper place after you bring them home – the refrigerator, freezer or pantry, depending on the item – not outside as some suggest.
“We don’t want these groceries to be sitting out in the garage, outside or anywhere where it can actually be more harmful, because certain bacteria can start to grow in the right conditions,” Smith said.
2. Wash produce with cool, running water after purchase. No soaps or additional chemicals are needed. Rinse it again prior to eating as an extra precaution.
3. Washing meat isn’t necessary. In fact, it’s discouraged. Washing meat can splash bacteria onto countertops, contaminating food-prep surfaces. Washing meat doesn’t kill any bacteria; cooking to the proper temperature is the only way to do that.
4. While shopping at the grocery store, minimize unnecessary touching of produce. Most people like to handle fruits and vegetables to check for ripeness but avoid that temptation during this time.
5. Some stores offer ways to make shopping more convenient. Take advantage. Shoppers have various options for home delivery or pickup outside the store. And many markets encourage people at higher risk of catching the coronavirus to shop early in the morning, when shelves are stocked, and the store is cleaner.
“That may be a great time to go, right after they’ve cleaned and disinfected the entire store,” Smith said.