Should You Be Disinfecting Your Groceries?

It's best to be cautious.

What was once a weekly or bi-weekly chore of going to the grocery store and checking off items on your shopping list has become a hazard, requiring masks and standing six-feet apart from fellow shoppers. When you can’t find something online and have to brave the store, what’s the best thing to do to protect yourself and those you love? As COVID-19 spreads across the world, so do questions revolving around this novel respiratory disease.

Is it safe to shop in a grocery store?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends staying home and avoiding crowds to avoid potential increased transmission. Other experts agree and side with ordering food online. “I’ve heard there are wait times, but if you can use that option it would definitely be better than going out,” Dr. Joshua Petrie, an assistant research professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, tells TIME. Sanitizing your shopping cart, avoid touching your face and wearing a face mask are just a few ways you can avoid germs while grocery shopping, according to experts and Consumer Reports.

If you’re older or have an underlying health condition, it is best to avoid the grocery store altogether. “For older people and those with underlying health conditions—the group that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying home—I would highly recommend using a grocery delivery service,” Jim Rogers, the director of food safety and research testing at Consumer Reports, says. Here’s what you should know before grocery shopping online.

How safe are your groceries?

There’s no evidence that shows the transmission of the novel coronavirus on food or food packaging, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “[W]e do not believe there is a need to conduct environmental testing in food settings for the virus that causes COVID-19 for the purpose of food safety,” the FDA continues on its website. Instead, the FDA recommends “cleaning and sanitizing the surfaces is a better use of resources than testing to see if the virus is present.” This is the best way to clean your home, according to the CDC.

How do you clean your groceries?

There’s no harm in being a bit more cautious. You can use disinfectant wipes on glass or cans, clean all the surfaces you have touched and always wash your hands. Washing your hands is so important, you should make sure you’re washing your hands the right way.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest