How to disinfect the purchase and other questions after returning from the supermarket
Donald Schaffner demystifies some false beliefs and is committed to hand hygiene and social distancing as the most effective weapons against contagion
Currently, there is no evidence that coronavirus is transmitted through food , but what steps should we take to disinfect our purchases after going to the supermarket ?
So far, scientific opinions agree that when it comes to shopping, the greatest risk of contagion with respect to Covid-19 comes from contact with other people while in the supermarket. Donald Schaffner, microbiologist and food safety expert at Rutgers University in the United States, answers some common questions that may arise with disinfecting our purchase to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Food in quarantine?
Should I keep my groceries in the garage or storage room for three days? This, as Schaffner reveals in ‘ Science Alert ‘, is ridiculous and the only thing you are going to achieve is that your food spoils, especially if we talk about fish or meat, and you can suffer from food poisoning .
For Schaffner, although the virus slowly deactivates at room temperature, with a half-life of about eight hours, this tip assumes that all food is contaminated, and that simply touching groceries will make you sick: neither assumption is true.
Disinfection of all bags and boxes?
“I think this is also advice that doesn’t make scientific sense ,” says Schaffner. “If you are concerned that the exterior of the food packages is contaminated, I suggest that you wash and / or disinfect your hands before sitting down to eat any food you have removed from those containers.” Washing your hands before eating, for this expert, is the best practice even when we are not in a pandemic.
Wash fresh produce with soap?
Soap should not be used to wash food as it is not designed for that and can even cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if swallowed. To wash them, use only cold water.
Are reusable bags risky?
“While it is theoretically possible that a reusable bag can pick up germs, including coronaviruses, while in the grocery store, the biggest threat someone is facing is a person with Covid-19 in the store,” explains Schaffner, who advocates to continue using this type of bags. “If you’re concerned that your bags may have coronaviruses, you can wash them , and always wash your hands after you’ve finished storing all your food.”
How to reduce the risk when making the purchase?
Some stores offer hand sanitizers at the entrance and sanitized cars, something you can take advantage of to reduce the risk of contagion. Schaffner also recommends making a list to reduce the time you spend in the store and practice social distancing , doing everything possible to maintain a distance of 1.8 meters with other buyers. If hand sanitizer is available, also use it when you leave the store, and then use it again at home once you’ve finished placing your entire purchase.