Are Grocery Stores Safe These Days?
If you went shopping lately, you no doubt witnessed what grocery buying has become – a Wild West experience. People are stocking up on canned goods, climbing over each other to reach to the depths of store freezer section to get the last edamame package, and forgetting social distancing
around pasta shelves. Eggs are gone, milk is gone, potatoes are gone, and the stores look like something from Soviet Union in 1985.
While we are in it together and shopping together, do we think about what happens when somebody coughs into those strawberries and you purchase them just a few minutes later? Is something in a box, like cereal, safe, or is it dangerous because who knows how many people touched it before you?
Here is what experts and doctors say about our safety in grocery stores:
Yes, many people are touching the produce you are buying. By the time you get home with your avocadoes and tomatoes, you have about 100 people touch them before you.
The only way to reduce this type of touching is if everybody would take a plastic bag over their hand, pick up what they need with it and drop it into another bag to be sealed. There is no way everybody will be following this practice and if they did, plastic bag consumption would be through the roof.
Always use sanitizing napkins that grocery stores provide at the entrance, they are helpful even without corona virus outbreak. It helps if you have a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times and sanitize your hands after you check out. Use credit card instead of cash to avoid extra germs from money.
When it comes to the environment, plastic bags are bad, but during virus outbreaks, choose disposable bags as they don’t get touched as much as paper ones. Reusable bags that you bring in might not be washed very often and could have viruses on them. They are fine if you sanitize them after each use.
As soon as you get home, wash your hands thoroughly, for 20 seconds. Then put all your produce in a bowl and wash it with hot water. Afterwards wash your hands again.
Many people wipe cans of peaches and boxes of cereal these days. According to specialists, that won’t hurt those items, but also won’t do much good to you. It gives some sense of security, but it’s false. It’s about interaction with people, not the products you touch.
Instead of wiping packages, try to stay away from people for at least 6 feet and wash your hands.
The same goes for delivered goods – time in transit really helps. Even if there is some contamination from respitory droplets, by the time the food gets to you and gets cooked, the chance of contamination is very small. If you want to be extra careful, you can wipe surfaces of foods that are not going to be heated, but consumed right away, for example soda cans.
Shopping for elderly people
People who are older, have suppressed immune systems or heart and lung diseases, should exercise extra caution. The best way is to ask somebody to shop for you. That might not be possible, but more and more stores are dedicating a couple of hours per day, usually in the morning, for elderly and vulnerable. Those hours are best because cleaning would have happened right before then and there are less people shopping.
Out of all the people who got sick with COVID-19, they all got the virus via air-born droplets and not by touching food. It doesn’t hurt to be careful, but the most important thing is to be reasonable and not let panic take over.
Do what makes you feel better, wipe the surfaces, and stay inside as much as you can!