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Published on May 01, 2020

Do I need to wash my groceries?

Do I need to wash my groceries?

As the spread of the coronavirus continues, the public is taking every precaution in order to protect themselves from contracting the virus. Some may wonder, do I need to wash my groceries?

The biggest risk in contracting COVID-19 is through person to person contact and exposing yourself to droplets through coughing, sneezing, etc. This means that the biggest risk from your groceries would be by going to the grocery store and interacting with others. Limit your trips to the store or choose online ordering, if available. When going into the grocery store, or other public places, take necessary steps to protect yourself. These include using disinfectant wipes to clean the handle of your cart or basket, wearing a cloth face covering to protect others, and maintain a six-foot distance as much as possible. Only touch the items you plan to buy; go into the store with a plan. Do not touch your face while shopping and be sure to use hand sanitizer when you get back to your car and/or wash your hands when you get home.

The research behind 'washing your groceries'

There is not enough research to indicate the spread of the virus through groceries. If it makes you more comfortable, you may choose to remove outer packaging where applicable, but it is probably not necessary. If you do feel more comfortable washing your groceries, do not wash your fruits and vegetables with soap. This may lead to diarrhea and vomiting if you ingest any trace of soap. Washing your fruits and vegetables with a diluted vinegar solution is the best way to clean produce. Avoid using disinfectant wipes on cans or cardboard boxes as these are not meant to be used on food items.

According to Cleveland Clinic, the virus lasts the longest on glass surfaces and the least amount of time on copper and cardboard surfaces. Once the virus hits a non-living article such as clothing or packaging, the amount of living virus decreases immediately.

The bottom line is to do what makes you comfortable. The best thing you can do is to avoid contact with those outside your household, maintain social distance when you must go out, avoid touching your face and wash your hands. It is always a good idea to wash your hands before preparing or eating a meal and after unpacking groceries. Whether or not you want to wash your groceries is up to you. The likelihood of getting sick from food packaging alone is very low.

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