Should We Wipe Groceries?

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : September 9, 2020


When the coronavirus pandemic has started, before using the vegetables, the majority of the people began cleansing their grocery purchases by using disinfecting wipes.To avoid contagion, in the beginning, the practice was recommended. There was a thinking that the virus can survive on any surface for a while. So, someone can touch the contaminated item, and later if they feel to touch their eyes, mouth, and nose, there is a possibility to get the infection themselves.

Should we wipe groceries

But, today, it is not the case. Experts have understood a lot more about coronavirus. Now, the spread is explained only through primary contact and from person to person if there are droplets in the air. A registered nurse and senior director of infection prevention for Rochester Regional Health, Melissa Bronstein, said, “The risk of getting it from surfaces, including grocery packaging, is “exceedingly small.”

There is most up-to-date data available on the website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it quotes, “Because of the poor survivability of these corona viruses on surfaces, there is likely a shallow risk of spread from food products or packaging.” In other words, the information revealed there is no case of coronavirus reported to date that is caused by touching food. Hence the virus won’t spread when you feel a food package and then touch your face.

The director at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Environmental Health Sciences Center, Katrina Korfmacher, added, “Some people are terrified, so if it makes them feel safer to wipe things down, then they need to do that.” Her opinion is, if people feel safe, then they can wipe their things, but they must be careful, and they should never end up ingesting some disinfectants. So, in general, people will gain little from the practice of wiping.

Now, experts are learning more and more about how people are getting infected. Because of the learning, early rituals of the pandemic are going the wayside. Some like immediately discarding the packages or food containers or wiping them down need not be followed now. Bronstein said

“Takeout containers don’t pose any special risk.” What about a person eating food on which someone else coughed or sneezed with a virus? “COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, not a foodborne illness. Currently, there is no evidence that it can be transmitted by food” the CDC and health experts’ note. Bronstein said “A more realistic risk is if (an infected) restaurant worker was face to face with you without wearing a mask.”

She also added, “There is no need “to let things sit for days.” Failing to refrigerate perishable items promptly poses other health risks, she said. Washing your hands after handling store-bought items, and washing your hands in general, does far more useful than focusing on surfaces, including at home.” In the early days of the pandemic, there was a practice focused on scrupulous cleaning. That led to the disappearance of all kinds of disinfecting wipes from the local stores.

Bronstein says, “Certainly, if someone in the household is sick, quarantining them and cleaning the surfaces they may be touching frequently is important,” “But if everyone is well in your household and there’s no indication that anyone is an asymptomatic carrier, routine cleaning is adequate for sanitation.” Bronstein quoted, “Reusable grocery store bags should be cleaned regularly and when visibly soiled, but the risk of contracting coronavirus from them “is still shallow,”

An associate professor of environmental medicine, Korfmacher said, “Certainly doesn’t hurt to wash the bags, especially if it is something you worry about.”  Bronstein added, “As for the risks associated with grocery shopping itself, it depends on the shopper and the conditions at the store.” When we consider people suffering from health conditions, the condition of the store can heighten the possibility of developing severe complications related to coronavirus if any activity, those results in keeping them in a closed space along with others, is considered as a high-risk activity.

If the shoppers who don’t have any complicated illness and if he is wearing masks, meantime maintain social distancing, the risk is reduced. It is essential to minimize the total time spent in stores and wash hands regularly so that shoppers can reduce the chances of infection. What about visiting a restaurant and getting infected? There is value in wearing a mask inside the restaurant. Even when you are using the drive-thru pickup windows of the restaurant, you should wear a mask since you will be very close to restaurant workers.

Bronstein says “There also is value in wearing a mask when using restaurant drive-thru pickup windows because they put you near restaurant workers.” Let us think about masks: There are varieties available. Is anyone type better than others? Bronstein said “The most important thing is to wear a mask that fully covers the wearer’s nose and mouth and is secure enough that the wearer won’t need to adjust it,” “Multilayers seem to offer more protection, especially for cloth masks. Filters probably add some protection, but they may make it harder to breathe, which may make the wearer less likely to wear the mask properly.”

The mask should always cover your mouth and nose completely. It should adequately fit on the face so that the wearer doesn’t adjust it frequently. She said, Wearing rubber or latex gloves is seldom called for, except when cleaning the room of an infected person.” “Then, wearing gloves is appropriate,” she said. “Be sure to clean your hands after removing the gloves.” Hence, it is always better to wear a multilayered mask, especially when you are in a closed space. When you are using cloth masks, always choose multilayer since it offers the highest protection. But, meantime, make sure you can breathe properly. If the mask is uncomfortable, then the wearer will start adjusting it often, and the intension is not served. Even though wearing gloves is the right choice, it is also important to clean hands soon after removing the gloves. The gloves must also be of high quality.


Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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