Do we need to clean our groceries before we put them away?


It’s always good practice (Picture: Getty Images)

With reports suggesting a second wave of coronavirus may be on its way (or here already) it makes sense to give yourselves a check that we’re still doing all the right things.

Washing hands is one of those things that we were *hopefully* already doing, but realised in the wake of the pandemic that we could always be doing it more and for longer.

But what about washing our food?

Given the news that there have been outbreaks in food factories and processing plantsfrom Bernard Matthews to Mr Kipling locations – it does make sense to think about it.

Wearing latex gloves has been shown to actually be somewhat counterproductive in stopping the spread of coronavirus. But washing our fruit and veg is always a positive action.

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Although the government have confirmed that the chance of catching coronavirus from food and food packaging is ‘very unlikely’, washing food before eating is a part of good hygiene that can mitigate that small risk.

Sally Bloomfield, chair of the scientific advisory board of the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene tells Patient: ‘Because the items you pick off the shelves in the supermarket will have been touched by other people, there is a chance (albeit small) that the packaging may have become contaminated via their hands…

‘Washing your shopping is not a question of whether it is “necessary”. It’s about minimising risk – and if someone in the home is at increased risk of infection this becomes more important.’

Although the risk is small, it’s good to get into the habit (Picture: Getty Images)

Dr Perpetua Emeagi, a lecturer in Human Biology and Biological Sciences at Liverpool Hope University, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘If someone with Covid-19 asked you if you wanted a bite of their sandwich, you clearly wouldn’t go anywhere near it. 

‘And the same caution has to be taken with everything you bring home from the supermarket, as you simply don’t know who’s been handling it before you. 

‘Imagine a scenario where someone with Covid-19 has sneezed into their hands before entering the store and picking up a tin of beans. The same person changes his mind, puts the tin of beans back on the shelf… only for you to come and place it in your basket shortly afterwards.’

On the science side, she continues: ‘Officially, Public Health England tells us that the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surface is likely to have decreased significantly by 24 hours, and even more so by 48 hours.

‘But there’s also some evidence to suggest the virus could be viable for up to seven days outside the human body. 

‘Surfaces like cardboard and plastic – common supermarket packaging products – are known to effectively harbour Covid-19. 

‘And my advice would be this: wash or wipe-down everything you bring home thoroughly before either putting in your cupboards or consuming it.’

This is more difficult for items that you can’t get wet like bakery goods, with Dr Perpetua saying that she’d advise being wary of – for example – loose bread rolls, instead opting for packaged options.

When you’ve got your shopping, remove from the packaging and give it a wash in warm water (if possible) before transferring to a different container.

Then, to avoid any cross-contamination, thoroughly clean your hands before once again handling the item of food. 

She also suggests being mindful of where your hands go after touching items in the supermarket. Touching your eye after touching something contaminated could spread the virus to you.

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Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.

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