Getting Groceries Safely During COVID-19


Getting Groceries Safely During COVID-19

Marshalee Valentine

Thursday, April 02, 2020

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Supermarkets are some of the only businesses that remain open during this COVID-19 pandemic, and while it is important that we ensure we have an adequate supply of food, we need to be mindful of the risk attached to being out in crowded public spaces. While it was recently published that the virus may not last long on your packages, the concern is the transmission from one person to the next. On my recent trip to the supermarket — even with the obvious measure taken by the owners such as sanitising hands upon entry and demarcations in the check-out lines for physical distancing, shoppers were still using this opportunity as a medium to catch up with their friends and family. This of course poses the risk of transmission. Along with this there is also the exchange and use of shopping carts, touching of freezer/door handles, reeling off plastic packaging bags; that could all lead to transfer if proper precautions are not taken.

Here are some precautions you should take when the need arises for you to do a grocery run.

1Walk with sanitiser or sanitising wipes to clean the handles of carts, baskets or doors that you may encounter. I realise many of us are wearing gloves, but the truth is the gloves may very well be just passing the virus from one product to the next. Of course, you have heard this a million times, but avoid touching your face while you walk through the grocery store. Once you check out use your hand sanitiser or wipes to clean your hands.

2 One thing to try is to visit the store when there is less traffic, ie right after opening, or right before closing. It really makes no sense that you practise physical distancing in the checkout line if you need push to get past others. This will be beneficial mostly for those who are high-risk such as the elderly and sick. If you need to go during peak hours get what you need and avoid delay. Some supermarkets have implemented a limit to the amount of people who can enter, while some just allow you to come in with a spray of sanitiser on your hands.

No matter how tempting, do NOT make a trip to the supermarket a family affair.

3 If you are high-risk, arrange for someone to get your groceries and take the necessary precautions upon delivery to avoid cross-contamination.

4 Try to avoid social gatherings in the supermarket; if you see your friends and family members, adhere to the three-to-six-feet distance and ensure you maintain that. Try to avoid hugs and handshaking.

Use contactless payments rather than cash. Once you've paid, remember to wipe your card down with a disinfectant wipe.

5 While not essential, you can take extra precaution by disinfecting all non-porous containers such as cans, bottles, and jars with disinfectant wipes or homemade bleach solution and allow them to sit for a minute. Additionally, you should disinfect the surfaces that have come in contact with the items.

6 Clean reusable bags when you get home, just as an additional precaution if possible. If they are not washable you can consider discarding them.

7 Although the USDA has indicated that it is not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging, you still need to practise good food hygiene and ensure that your fruits and vegetables are washed properly before consuming. And of course, the same basic food safety principles will apply: keep your kitchen and utensils clean, organise and separate and cook foods to the correct temperatures.

8 Remember to practise good personal hygiene and keep your hands clean.

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