As Chicagoans stare down another six weeks under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, the grocery store remains the only public space many people are venturing out to during the pandemic.
But what to do with those groceries once you get them home has been the source of much debate. Extreme precautions taken by some shoppers include leaving non-perishable items in cars or garages or on porches for days, along with disinfecting every package once it enters the house.
According to the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “There is no evidence of food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19.”
The recommendation, from all three organizations, is to wash your hands with soap and water when you get home from the store, and then again after putting away your groceries.
“If you wish, you can wipe down product packaging and allow it to air dry, as an extra precaution,” the WHO states on its website.
Fruits and vegetables should be treated the same as under any other circumstance: Wash your hands with soap and water before handling the produce, then rinse it with water.
Some of the anxiety related to food packaging stems from a study that found the coronavirus can live on surfaces like plastic, stainless steel and cardboard for anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.
Scientists at Johns Hopkins addressed these findings last month.
In an interview published to the university’s COVID-19 information hub, Carolyn Machamer, a professor of cell biology whose lab at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has studied the basic biology of coronaviruses for years, placed the results of the study in context: “What’s more important is the amount of the virus that remains. It’s less than 0.1% of the starting virus material. Infection is theoretically possible but unlikely at the levels remaining after a few days. People need to know this.”
Surfaces that should be regularly cleaned are those that many people routinely come in contact with, such as doorknobs, desks, phones, keyboards and light switches.
ICYMI: FDA has heard your concerns about shopping for #food safely. We want to assure you there is currently NO evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the #COVID19 . More food shopping info here: https://t.co/D0g6HSCNGV
— FDA FOOD (Ctr for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition) (@FDAfood) April 21, 2020