I’m a germaphobe and this entire pandemic thing is driving me insane — this isn’t a great time for me. I’ve been doing my best to stay sane, but I’m still excessively cleaning, laundering my clothes way too often, and wiping everything down, especially after grocery shopping.
Grocery shopping is essential. There’s no way around it, but doing so safely is a MUST. I get the same questions from friends and family every time I venture outside for groceries — is it safe? Shouldn’t you just get it delivered? Are you cleaning the bags? Etc..
The truth is taking necessary precautions these days are essential for our safety. Take social distancing seriously and practice it by staying SIX FEET away from others. I know that can sometimes be a challenge in grocery stores but do make an effort.
Last Thursday, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted a statement on their website to reassure us that food packaging cannot transmit the Coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
We want to reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This particular coronavirus causes respiratory illness and is spread from person-to-person, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal or GI viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food.
While the FDA is making an excellent attempt to ease our fear — it’s still wise to be responsible and use common sense. Remember being responsible during this time is not just for you — it’s for others as well. You don’t need to be obsessively crazy like I’ve been at times over the last weeks, but you do need to be responsible.
Here’s what I’m doing:
Wear a face mask — a scarf, an old t-shirt, etc. can work. Remember, it’s now mandatory in New York City to wear a face covering.
- DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE EVER!
Have a list of items you’re buying on hand, and please DO NOT feed into the hysteria and over shop. Some things are already available in limited stock — think about others and buy only what you need. I buy a week’s worth of fresh fruits and veggies each week.
- GO ALONE.
Avoid taking your handbags and unnecessary items into the grocery store. I slip my ID into my pocket or the waist of my pants.
- I repeat DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE.
Use Apple Pay, Google Pay, Credit Cards, etc.. I’ve only used my Apple Pay since all of this started.
- Walk with gloves or baggie with wipes to handle or clean shopping carts — some stores have wipes on hand to clean them. However, not all. I’m always grossed out by using shopping carts — now it’s worst. I’m not using carts I’m carrying around reusable shopping bags. This is a better option NOW. (It’s necessary to wash or clean your bags before and after each use)
I can’t say it enough — DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE.
- Use hand-wipes or sanitizer as soon as you get out of the grocery store. I remove my gloves and use hand wipes as soon as I get to my car.
Wash your hands as soon as you get home.
- Wipe down the packaging of your groceries and allow them to dry before packing them away.
Rewash your hands after you’ve wiped down the packaging and again once you’ve stored grocery items.
- Wash all your fruits and vegetables after you’ve wiped down the grocery packaging. Use my simple solution if you don’t have one.
Clean your countertops and floors where grocery bags were placed. If you’re using your kitchen daily it every other day — Countertops, refrigerator door-handle, Cabinet handles, stovenobs, floors, etc. should be cleaned daily.
- Shower thoroughly.
The FDA recommends
- Prepare a shopping list in advance. Buy just 1 to 2 weeks worth of groceries at a time. Buying more than you need can create unnecessary demand and temporary shortages.
- Wear a face covering or mask while you are in the store. Some stores and localities may require it. Check your state, county, or city guidelines for any other requirements.
- Carry your wipes, or use one provided by the store to wipe down the handles of the shopping cart or basket. If you use reusable shopping bags, ensure they are cleaned or washed before each use.
Practice social distancing while shopping – keeping at least 6 feet between you, other shoppers, and store employees. Keep your hands away from your face.
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds when you return home and again after you put away your groceries.
- Again, there is no evidence of food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19. However, if you wish, you can wipe down product packaging and allow it to air dry, as an extra precaution.
As always, it is essential to follow these food safety practices to help prevent foodborne illness:
- Before eating, rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush. For canned goods, remember to clean lids before opening.
- When unpacking groceries, refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables—like berries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms—within 2 hours of purchasing.
- Regularly clean and sanitize kitchen counters using a commercially available disinfectant product or a DIY sanitizing solution with 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) unscented liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. WARNING: Do not use this solution or other disinfecting products on food.
- Always keep in mind the basic 4 food safety steps — Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
And there you have it — I love what the FDA is doing but again do your part to take all necessary precautions to protect yourself, your loved ones, and the people who work at the places you shop.
Stay focus and be mindful — Please do limit your time in the stores. Shop with your eyes and not your fingers and start with your non-perishable.
I wish you safe and happy grocery shopping.
As Always, I’m sending love – Stay Safe.
Articles like this one are written to offer practical advice, provide some entertainment, foster a sense of social cohesion, and remind us that life is still beautiful during these strange and isolating times.