The Coronavirus Guide for Getting Food

In All Health Watch, Coronavirus, Diet and Nutrition, Featured Article, General Health, Health Warning

Most of us could survive quarantined in our homes for weeks except for one thing…

We have to eat. 

There’s no way to avoid buying groceries or ordering takeout. For many of us, getting food is our only contact with the world outside our homes.

And that makes it the most likely way we could catch coronavirus. 

Here are seven ways to reduce the risk…

5 Coronavirus Rules for Getting Food

  1. Go to the store as early in the day as possible. Most grocery stores are now closing early so they have more time to sanitize and restock at night. So the earlier you get there, the cleaner the store is likely to be. You’re apt to find a better selection as well.
  2. Order takeout from markets or restaurants with a “drop-off” option. Many specialty food markets and restaurants now offer this. You order and pay by phone or online. Then, when you go to pick up your order, you leave the trunk of your car open. An employee puts your order in the trunk without ever getting close to you.
  3. Wear a face mask when you go out. There is new data showing the virus may stay in the air longer than previously thought. This means, contrary to what we were told earlier in the outbreak, a mask could offer protection to the wearer.[i]

    But don’t purchase medical masks. They are needed by healthcare professionals. Use a scarf, handkerchief, or disposable dust mask to cover your mouth and nose.
  4. Have your groceries delivered, if possible. This has become difficult to do lately, as delivery services are getting slammed. But retailers such as Amazon and Walmart are responding by beefing up their online grocery businesses. Instacart is another widely available option. Google “grocery delivery services.”[ii]
  5. Shop fast.  Get in and out as quickly you can. Stay as far away from other customers and employees as you can. Don’t touch anything that you’re not going buy.

    Dr. Robert Amler is dean of New York Medical College School of Health Sciences and Practice. He describes every trip to the grocery store as “a small exposure event.” He says you “don’t want to do it too often or spend too much time there.”[iii]

How Should You Handle Groceries After You Get Them?

Don’t worry about disinfecting individual boxes, containers, and bags after you bring them home.

Donald Schaffner is a microbiologist and food safety expert from Rutgers University. He says disinfecting groceries “does not make scientific sense.” Neither does leaving your groceries in the garage or on the porch for three days, as has been widely suggested.[iv]

This advice presumes your groceries must be contaminated, and that “simply touching (them) will make you sick, neither of which are true,” says Schaffner. “It’s a recipe for disaster, or at least spoiled food.”

Instead, Schaffner suggests washing your hands after putting away your groceries.

Produce should be washed in cold water. Do not use soap. “Soap is not designed for food,” says Schaffner. It can make you sick if ingested.

The bottom line?

You have to eat, but you don’t have to take unnecessary risks.

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