With the coronavirus pandemic rapidly spreading across the world and an overload of information, some of it not backed by solid facts, the masses are currently dealing with fear and confusion of sorting through what is right and what they should discard as not-important-enough. Like there is the fact that coronavirus can stay viable on surfaces for hours and even days, but does this fact apply to our groceries, too? 

So, before we jump on to “how to disinfect your groceries?” let’s answer whether it is even needed, at all 

No, there is no need to sanitize food packaging. Though it is true that the virus can survive for  24 hours on a carboard and on plastic for 72 hours, it is also quickly declining in number during this period. 

The US Centers for Disease Control also does not recommend disinfecting packaging.

“At this point, there’s no evidence that transmission is happening through food packaging. That said, we know the virus can remain viable on surfaces for hours or even days, so there’s a hypothetical risk of transmission through touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth,” said Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist, and professor in the department of population medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Better than disinfecting, the thing we keep saying over and over again is to just wash your hands.”

“Right now there’s no evidence that [the virus is] spread through food. There’s no evidence that it’s spread through food packaging. That doesn’t mean that we might not learn new evidence tomorrow that would change our thoughts on that, but right now that’s what we believe,” said Donald W Schaffner, a food microbiologist and professor at Rutgers University.

Thus disinfecting your grocery is really not an option

None of the cleaning products on the list provided by the US government should come into contact with food. While they can kill the virus, they are chemicals designed for disinfecting hard surfaces, not for groceries, as stressed by food experts. 

So, what can we do?

  1. For starters, you can clean your hands with a sanitizer, disinfecting your shopping cart’s handle, and then using the hand sanitizer again to clean your hands. 
  2. For precaution’s sake, you can keep washing or sanitizing your hands throughout the process of unpacking your groceries, like washing your hands before and after putting away the groceries. 
  3. Wash your hands before and after your wash your fruits with water and before preparing a meal. 
  4. Employ the practice of washing your fruits and vegetables before tucking them away and also before you consume them. 

Shopping Cart Did you know that a shopping cart has more bacteria than a toilet handle or that grocery store produce has 253-times more bacteria than a video game controller? To celebrate their 10-year anniversary of making “green” grocery bags, the team at California-based Reuse This Bag compiled a comprehensive study on the bacteria found in grocery stores. Getty Images