How to Protect Against Germs at the Grocery Store
Written by Wellness Department
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it’s important to lower your risk of coming into contact with unsafe germs while buying essential items. Coronavirus is not a food borne illness but since the virus can live on surfaces you want to be careful when grocery shopping. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends you wear a face covering when you leave the house like a scarf, bandana or mask you made at home.
Follow these tips to protect yourself on your next trip to the grocery store:
- Bring your own wipes or sanitizer. If you are using a shopping cart, wipe the handle and inside the cart before you use it. Another option is using your own reusable bags to avoid touching a cart.
- Shop at off-peak hours when stores are less crowded. Some stores have set aside shopping hours for people 60 and older. You are more likely to get coronavirus by being close to people. Try to keep a safe distance from others, about 3-6 feet.
- Limit your trips to the store. Most people don’t have the freezer space or funds to stock up on 2 weeks of groceries. Try your best to get enough food for the week.
- Shop for long-lasting foods. Frozen fruits and veggies are great to have but also try to buy longer-lasting fresh produce like root veggies (potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks).
- Try not to touch items you don’t plan to buy to help protect others who may buy them later.
- Take what you need. Leave food for others. Don’t hoard or panic buy.
- Have a flexible plan. Create a shopping list that allows for alternatives. If your store runs out of ingredients, look for a substitute.
- Don’t touch your face. This includes your mouth, eyes, and nose until you’ve been able to sanitize your hands.
- Be kind to the checkout person. Keep your distance. Place payment on the counter rather than handing it to them. Offer to pack your own groceries.
- Don’t stress. While it’s smart to take precautions, you need to take care of your mental health. Do the best you can to stay safe.
When you get home, wash your hands and follow these tips to keep your home and food safe:
- Wipe containers and boxes with a disinfect spray or wipes. If you don’t have any cleaning supplies, use soap and water.
- Rinse fresh fruits and veggies under cold running water before putting them away. Do not use soap or bleach. Cooking kills the virus, but fresh produce eaten raw should be washed.
- Wipe down or machine wash your reusable grocery bags.
- After your food is stored, wipe down all surfaces in the kitchen.
For takeout or prepared food delivered to your home, put your meal onto a plate and throw out the packaging. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before eating.
Check out this video on how to wipe down groceries before storing them.
Check out this video of Dr. Sanjay Gupta on how to wash your hands.