COVID-19 grocery safety tips to ease anxiety about shopping trips

Is it safe to go to the grocery store? Should you wipe down what you buy? Experts say there are things shoppers can do to make grocery shopping safer.

News 12 Staff

Apr 3, 2020, 8:18 PM

Updated 1,474 days ago

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Is it safe to go to the grocery store? Should you wipe down what you buy? Experts say there are things shoppers can do to make grocery shopping safer.
Social distancing and the shutdown of nonessential businesses have made trips to the grocery story one of the few trips we are all still making. But even a trip to the supermarket can cause anxiety as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
To reduce your risk, experts advise the following:
To start, try to shop when stores are less crowded and use disinfectant on the handle of your shopping cart or basket. There's evidence coronavirus can live on that handle for as long as three days.
"If you think about how many people might have touched that handle a day, it's pretty significant," says Dr. Deena Amidoolam, of the Mount Sinai Health System.
But there's not much data about how long coronavirus can survive on fresh food. Dr. Amidoolam is advising patients to avoid fresh cut cheese and cold cuts. She says fresh produce is fine, but you have to be willing to do some extra work.
"When we're searching for fresh produce, there's many hands in that pile," says Dr. Amidoolam. "So I still am recommending that my patients take that produce home, then wash it with soap and water."
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Write your shopping list on paper instead of your cellphone. If you do use your phone, don't touch it at the store. Don't answer it at the store if it means putting the phone to your face. Use a hands-free device or wait until you get home.
Next comes putting away your groceries. The virus can survive on paper and cardboard for less than a day, so just wipe them down or set them aside for 24 hours. Coronavirus can survive on plastic or metal for up to three days, so disinfect cans and bottles.
"I come home, I have one area where things need to be cleaned and another area where things are clean," says Dr. Amidoolam. "So I'm constantly separating things out between what needs to be wiped down and what's already been wiped down."
Experts say avoid unnecessary shopping trips by getting everything you need at one time. Seniors and those who have a weakened immune system should try to avoid shopping and have a younger or healthier person shop instead.
And should you wear a mask while grocery shopping? The surgeon general says it isn't necessary, but it can't hurt to bring one. He does advise bringing hand sanitizer or wipes with you instead of depending on stores to provide them.
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