8 Steps to Sanitize Your Groceries According to a Doctor

Social distancing at the supermarket may not be enough to keep us and our family safe from the virus.

With the novel COVID-19 in our midst, we must all practice social distancing and stay indoors except when we are to shop for necessities like medicine and food. But even if we keep our distance from other shoppers, we'll never know for sure if the surfaces and the goods that we are touching in the supermarket are free from COVID-19 particles.

After all, studies have suggested that like other coronaviruses, this particular novel virus may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days, this is according the official website of the World Health Organization.

Fortunately, Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen, a family physician from Michigan, USA shares with us some concise guidelines on how to disinfect our groceries in a 13-minute Youtube video. In his procedure, Dr. VanWingen tells us to adapt the surgical "sterile technique" in our kitchen which will help reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

Image screengrabbed from Dr. VanWingen's Youtube video.

Here's a quick rundown of Dr. VanWingen's procedure in 8 simple steps:

Shopping:


1. Minimize your time in the supermarket. List down two weeks worth of groceries before heading out.

2. Make sure that the person going out does not have a respiratory problem or is not over 60 years of age.

3. Wipe down your cart and commit to what you are buying before picking it up from the shelf.

4. Once home, try not to bring them into your house unless you absolutely needed them. If not perishable, you can also leave them outside (in your car, garage, or porch) for up to three days.

In the kitchen:

5. Before bringing the groceries inside, sanitize your workspace with standard disinfectant.

6. Divide your workspace to separate the "dirty" groceries and the "clean" ones (the groceries you will be disinfecting).

7. Put all the grocery bags on the dirty side, and sanitize them one by one. All sanitized goods go to the clean side.

  • Using the tissue or cloth that is well-saturated with disinfectant, wipe down all the goods in plastic packaging.
  • For cardboard boxes like cereals, open the box, bring out the plastic or foil pack inside, put the pack to the clean side and get rid of the box.
  • For vegetables in a sealed plastic bag, you can either wipe the plastic bag or have someone open the fridge and its crisper drawer, then you can open the bag and dump it straight to the crisper.
  • For items like bread, you can dump its contents on a clean container and get rid of the plastic packaging.
  • You can also spray disinfectant straight to hard plastics and jars.
  • For fruits with a porous peel, you can clean it with soapy water for 20 seconds each, and rinse well.

8. Then, get rid of all the "dirty" trash and make sure you wipe the dirty side of the table once more with disinfectant. As much as possible, even reusable cloth bags that you've used outside should also be discarded.
 

For food deliveries, you can also follow a similar procedure. You and the delivery personnel must first avoid physical contact– have them drop the delivery on some clean surface outside, and you can pay them the same way.

Image screengrabbed from Dr. VanWingen's Youtube video.

Put the bags on the dirty side of your sanitized workspace; prepare plates and containers on the clean side; and dump the food over plates one by one while getting rid of its carton containers. For the little packs of sauces, you can also put them on the plates making sure that the sauce doesn't touch the outside of the packaging. Whenever possible, you should also microwave or heat the food as this can also combat other coronavirus species.

And that's it! Watch the full video of Dr. VanWingen below to learn more.

Be sure to share this knowledge to friends and family. To quote Dr. VanWingen on why he created this video: "It's about getting the word out with education. In these unprecedented times, safety out in the marketplace can literally save lives."

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