Dr Jeffery Van Wingen, a Michigan surgeon, has offered some tips on how to prevent contamination from covid-19 when buying food, bringing it into your home, and storing it properly to ensure that you do not inadvertently introduce coronavirus from the supermarket or pharmacy into your living environment.
Anyone who has ventured out into the world to purchase goods that we take into our bodies has undoubtedly noticed that many people still aren’t wearing gloves or masks when they mingle with others during the course of a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy. Such people may be contaminating the containers of the products to be purchased. The people stocking the shelves, bagging the items, or filling the orders may be touching the containers of goods, or the goods themselves.
Remember that almost everything you buy has been handled by a number of people from the farm or factory down the road to your shopping venue.
First of all, the most obvious suggestion is to wipe down the handles of the shopping cart or basket with a sterilized cloth or paper towel. The virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 3 days or more.
Secondly, take a list of the items you need, and commit to buying only those goods. The reasoning here is that it is best to spend as little time as possible in an environment where social distancing cannot be practiced.
Next, don’t go out at all if you have symptoms of the virus, or any respiratory issues whatsoever. Be committed to protecting others as well as yourself.
Plan for no more than two weeks of necessities. There is no rationing taking place. Farm workers are still harvesting fruits and vegetables. Shippers are still delivering goods to retail outlets. At least as of now, there is no need for panic buying. By hoarding necessities, you are only depriving your friends and neighbors from having an adequate supply of the same goods.
Many people are now using cloth bags when they go to the market. Remember to consider those bags “dirty” after you have filled them at the market. Don’t use them again until they have been washed or sanitized.
Once you’ve taken the groceries home, don’t bring them into the house unless they require refrigeration or are otherwise perishable. If possible, leave them on your porch, garage or any safe storage spot for 3 days if possible. And just to be safe, there are more tips for unbagging the items you have bought:
Clean the surface of the counter top where you plan to unpack the groceries and medications.
Wipe down the containers of medications, because you know those have been handled by human hands that may not have been gloved.
With items such as cereals, which have inner containers, remove the inner sealed bag from the outer box and discard the box.
Wipe down cans, bottles and jars.
Fruit, such as oranges, have peels that are porous, just like our skin. These need to be washed for at least 20 seconds in soapy water, rinsed thoroughly, then placed in a clean container such as Tupperware.
Vegetables must also be washed and rinsed individually.
Things like bread may be removed from its original container, dumped into a sterile container (again, like Tupperware); then discard the original bag.
Plasticized containers (such as boxed milk, potato chip bags, etc.), are ok with just wiping down the container itself. These items are generally hermetically sealed.
Remember to continually wash your hands during the process of unpacking your groceries.
What about take-out or delivery food? No problem.
First of all, don’t invite the delivery person into your house.
Then, remove the food itself from the plastic, foil, or box container that it comes in. Fortunately, the virus pathogens do not do well in food, especially if it is hot; heat destabilizes the virus. It’s ok (even recommended) to heat the food in a microwave, even briefly. Then, dump the food onto a sterile container from your cupboard, WASH YOUR HANDS, sit down, eat and enjoy.
With frozen goods, not so bueno. Viruses can live for up to 2 years in a frozen environment.
So, with a frozen pizza, for example, take the box out of the freezer, discard the box, place the pizza on a safe container or microwave or cook it in the oven.
With ice cream, sterilize the plasticized container before putting it into your freezer.
That’s about it. Some of these techniques are time-consuming, but if they work to keep you healthy during this pandemic, then, ultimately, you will be able to eat what you want safely, having protected yourself from the invasion of an unwanted and dangerous disease into your household.
The good doctor asked that his video be shared widely. If you’d like to see it for yourself, here’s the link: https://youtu.be/sjDuwc9KBps
Eat, drink & be merry!