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Sanitizing Food and Grocery Items

Last Updated on April 11, 2020 by Ashwini G

Coronavirus is crippling the world all around you and changing lives drastically. There are some changes that you need to adapt now to keep yourself and your family away from this disease. With everyone talking about and maintaining social distance, hand hygiene and staying indoors, how will the coronavirus find its way into your home? The answer is simple. Through the grocery trips and items, you have brought home with you despite the lockdown. So how do you protect yourself against this threat? Should you stop purchasing necessities? There is no need to panic or take extreme steps. This guide will help you understand the risk that grocery items pose and the ways to effectively tackle them.

Why You Need to Sanitize Food and Grocery Items

A popular question these days is can you get corona by the food packets you purchased from the local grocery store? Or whether or not it is safe to buy that packaged rice? You are right to ask these questions. Your food and grocery items carry the potential to contaminate you and your family with coronavirus. However, research has not found any link that the coronavirus is transmissible through food and grocery. But studies show that coronavirus can stay alive on surfaces. Hence there are ways in which the food and grocery items that you purchase might have gotten contaminated. Some of these ways are:

  • An infected person might have sorted through them in the store
  • A carrier with contaminated hands might have handled the items
  • Someone might have sneezed or coughed into the grocery items in the store
  • The shop vendor himself might be infected thereby contaminating the items purchased by you
  • The items might have been exposed while getting transported to that shop

The basic point here is that you are trying to minimize the risk from infected people who might have come into contact with the food and grocery items in one way or another.

Ways to Sanitize Food and Grocery Items

Just the thought that the food you just bought might track corona into your home infecting not only you but your family as well does not bear thinking. However, you have no cause to worry or avoid buying the essential supplies. There are quick and easy ways to effectively sanitize your food and grocery items. These are listed below for your convenience and safety:

  • Non-perishable Items: Discard these items outside in the balcony or some designated area in the house for a minimum 24 hours. Research has shown that coronavirus can stay on cardboard for 24 hours and plastic for 72 hours. Judge the amount of time you should leave the grocery items before keeping them in the pantry accordingly. These would include things like biscuits, chips, wafers, toffees, etc
  • Perishable Items: If leaving the goods outside is not practical then wipe down the packets with disinfectant wipes. In case disinfectant wipes are not an option then soap and water work as well. These items include frozen food, cheese, aerated drinks, etc.
  • Items with Paper Wrapping: Some grocery items come in a paper wrapping. Because of this, it is not advisable to wipe them with a soap water solution. In this case, use hand sanitizer. Just dabble a bit on a tissue and use that tissue to wipe down the packaging
  • Open Grocery: Some shops sell essentials like sugar and flour without pre-packaging. It is best to avoid such open food items for now. However, if you have no choice but to purchase them then sanitize the plastic in which they were packed in the shop with disinfectant. And do not consume the items for at least 24 hours.
  • Milk: Wash your milk packets thoroughly with soap and water before you open the packet to pour milk in the container. If you purchase open milk from the local dairy then you don’t have to stop the supply. Just leave the container at the doorstep and ask him to deliver milk in that. Then boil the milk immediately. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after pouring the milk in the designated container.
  • Bread: Wipe the bread packet with a disinfectant. Do not wash the bread packet. This will spoil your bread.
  • Eggs: You must wash each egg separately and thoroughly with water. Do not use soap on the eggs since soap can penetrate the eggshells and contaminate them. Also immediately dispose of the egg tray or the plastic bag in which you got the eggs.
  • Meat or Chicken: Wash these thoroughly with water upon arriving. Ensure they are well cooked before consumption. Wash everything that they might have gotten in touch with thoroughly.

Cross Contamination

This is a very important point that a lot of people tend to skip or overlook. Along with sanitizing the food and grocery items, you also have to make sure that you do not unintentionally contaminate other surfaces. Some points to keep in mind to avoid cross-contamination are:

  • Wash your hands before you start sanitizing the items.
  • Sanitize the kitchen slab and countertops that might have come in touch with the grocery items.
  • Clean containers to make sure they are corona free before you put your grocery items in it.
  • Sanitize the kitchen cabinet doors and handles.

Pointers on Grocery Shopping

Some points you must take care of when out in the shops are listed below:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Keep a hand sanitizer with you and frequently sanitize your hands.
  • Maintain social distance.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.
  • Make a list that you can give to the shopkeeper. This way he can handle all the items and place it in your bag. This minimizes your exposure to other contaminated items or surfaces.
  • Limit grocery visits as much as possible.
  • Make cashless payments whenever possible. Paytm is a good contact-free option

Best Practices for Food Handling at Home

Apart from sanitizing your fruits and vegetables, there are certain other practices that you should follow to maintain hygiene and a corona free environment in your food space at home. These are:

  • Clean and disinfect kitchen slab and surface regularly.
  • Disinfect your kitchen sink. It is here that you would be washing all that fresh produce so make sure the sink gets properly disinfected as well.
  • Disinfect any grocery item packaged or otherwise before putting it away.
  • Wash your hands before handling anything related to food

FAQ Section

What does sanitizing grocery mean?

Sanitizing grocery items means disinfecting the outer packaging of the grocery item with a disinfectant solution or by washing it with soap and water. The aim is to make sure you kill all the surface germs, bacteria and viruses.

Is it even necessary to sanitize food and grocery?

As of now, research has found no evidence linking coronavirus spread through food or grocery items. However, the virus can remain active on surfaces. Hence sanitizing grocery items is a good idea.

What should you do with the grocery bags?

If the bags are the ones the shopkeeper handed over your grocery in then you should discard it immediately in a closed dustbin. If it is your shopping bag then wash it or leave it untouched for the next 24 to 48 hours so that it is contamination free.

Is delivery a better option than going out grocery shopping?

Getting groceries delivered is a better option. You will be better protected by not exposing yourself to all the people in the market and shops. Just remember to leave a bag on your doorstep for the delivery agent and opt for online payment.

Bottom Line

Food safety has been a point of concern since long before COVID 19 made an appearance. What has changed since then is the approach to food safety. Before corona, cleaning grocery and food items was deemed unnecessary, now you will have to go the extra mile. Since given the repercussions you are better off doing more and risk erring on the side of reason than doing less and repenting.

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