If you’re venturing out to the grocery store in the next couple days, and have concerns about bringing items carrying the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) into your home, there are several ways to protect yourself.
First let’s establish some basics: The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that the virus spreads person to person, between people who are in close contact (less than six feet). Coronavirus can also be spread “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”
The important thing is to be diligent about not touching your face and washing your hands. Experts also recommend sanitizing high-touch areas, such as door handles, computers, phones, and light switches — things you are likely to use again before touching your face.
“It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” says the CDC.
In terms of your time at the grocery store, what you need to be most conscious about is that you are washing your hands before and after you head into the grocery store. But the question remains, should you be disinfecting all of your groceries?
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) says that you should follow good hygiene practices in addition to regular food safety practices such as cleaning produce. After washing your hands, cut away bruised or damaged areas on fruits and vegetables since bacteria can thrive in those areas. Also clean your knife with hot water and soap before using it again.
Further, wash all fruits and vegetables (even if you plan to peel them) under fresh, cool, running water to prevent the spread of any bacteria that may be present. Use a clean produce brush to scrub fruits and vegetables with firm surfaces such as oranges, melons, carrots or potatoes.
The biggest risk you face when entering a grocery store is being in close contact with others who may have been exposed to the virus. To be extra cautious, wearing a mask and/or gloves is worth considering before entering a public space.
So far, scientists have been unable to detect how long, and if, the virus can last on plastic containers or food packages.
The CFIA has reported that, “There is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages coming from affected regions. The risk of spread from products shipped over a period of days or weeks at room temperature is very low.”
But due to that low risk, the FDA suggests you, “Wash your hands after handling food and food packages when you return from the grocery store and after removing packaging from food.”
Follow the produce cleaning tips above and avoid using soap or antibacterial sanitizer on produce as it can be harmful on your system.
If your pending grocery trip isn’t urgent, try out some of Toronto’s great grocery delivery services. This is also a great time to support local restaurants and experience some of the great food Toronto has to offer. Also remember that the same sanitizing rules apply when it comes to accepting any incoming delivery packages into your home.