We know that it’s a scary world out there at the moment, and all of us are trying to find ways to stay as safe as possible and ease our anxieties in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. But many of the ways we are being advised to keep safe on social media – like washing our veggies in soapy water or leaving our groceries in the garage for 12 hours – can cause more harm than good.
FRESH FRUIT & VEGGIES
To begin, there is no scientific evidence to show that COVID-19 can be contracted directly from consuming food. But if you are worried about touching a piece of fruit or a vegetable that may have been exposed to the virus, do not wash them in soapy water or spray them down with disinfectant as many people around the world have begun doing. This will only bring with it a host of other health issues for you and your family as most of these products are toxic.
For this, basic food hygiene rules apply. Store your fruits and veggies in your crisper drawer in the fridge and rinse them with cold water before cooking or eating. And always wash your hands before and after handling food, and before and after eating.
If you’re still feeling nervous, perhaps buy pre-packaged fruits and veggies. You can recycle the packaging as soon as you get home, wash your hands and store your fresh produce as per normal.
With our social media feeds constantly being filled with new information about how the COVID-19 virus can live on certain surfaces like cardboard, plastic and metal for quite a few hours, many people are nervous about touching these groceries and bringing them into their homes.
Many dry goods that are packaged in cardboard or paper can be removed from their packaging and stored in plastic containers or glass jars. And if your tinned goods and food items packaged in plastic are completely sealed, you can wipe them down with an all-purpose kitchen cleaner before packing them away.
GROCERY SHOPPING DOS & DON’TS
1. DON’T quarantine your groceries – Leaving your groceries in the garage, outside or in a room you don’t use for a number of hours is not ideal. This will encourage the growth of bacteria and the last thing you and your family needs is tummy lurgy from food poisoning. Pack away your groceries safely according to the steps above, ensuring you wash your hands before and after.
2. DO set aside a space to unpack groceries – Set aside a designated space in your kitchen where you will discard any packaging and wipe down any sealed items. When you are done, be sure to disinfect the entire area, and wash your hands.
3. DO disinfect your shopping bags – If you use reusable plastic bags, wipe them down with an all-purpose disinfectant. If you use cloth bags, you can pop them straight into the washing machine. As not all food packaging is fully sealed, this should be regular practice after grocery shopping to prevent the growth of bacteria.
4. DO use the sanitiser provided in store – Many grocery stores have free hand sanitiser available to all customers all over the store to make use of as they shop. Definitely take advantage of this service and avoid touching your face throughout.
5. DON’T touch – Now is not the time to lean in to smell which fruits and veggies are ripe or to pick up and squeeze every avocado. Pick out what you’d like and try to stick with it. The same goes for other shoppers. Keep your distance from them and continue to practice social distancing even if you bump into someone you know.
For more information on COVID-19 safety practices visit sacoronavirus.co.za or who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Words: Roxy Greeff