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Does COVID-19 spread through groceries?

Does COVID-19 spread through groceries?

Last Reviewed : 12/17/2020
Does COVID-19 spread through groceries?

Preventive measures like social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing a face mask are all critical to contain COVID-19 spread across the globe. It is also essential to use disinfectants at home to clean surfaces that are commonly used, like remotes, light switches, countertops, faucets, doorknobs, and furniture.

As most of the world is under lockdown, groceries and other essential services are still open. There is a concern if COVID-19 may spread through groceries. Disinfectants are being used over fruits and vegetables to prevent infection. In this article, we review if COVID-19 can spread through groceries and what measures to take to prevent infection.

There is research confirming that Novel Coronavirus is stable on surfaces like plastic for up to 72 hours. On stainless steel, the virus is viable for up to 48 hours. On cardboard, it is viable for up to 24 hours and on copper up to 4 hours. Studies like this have raised concerns among shoppers that COVID-19 might spread through groceries.

For COVID-19 to spread, infected person should directly cough or sneeze over the groceries. Droplets that contaminate groceries should have enough viral load. These droplets should have been on the groceries for not more than few days. Finally, healthy people should touch their nose, eyes or mouth, after touching the contaminated products.

If any of these steps are broken, COVID-19 infection does not spread. While the risk is not zero, it is extremely rare for COVID-19 to spread in this fashion. It is critical not to touch anything unnecessarily while shopping.

Once groceries are brought home, make sure to take the following measures:

  1. Remove all the plastic covers and discard them.
  2. Please wash fruits and vegetables with water. Do not use any disinfectants directly on the fruits and vegetables. There is a possibility of ingesting disinfectant that remains on the food items. More than the risk of COVID-19 spread, the risk of ingesting disinfectant will be higher.
  3. Use disinfectant wipes to clean the outer surface of boxes and bottles. This is an extreme precaution as the risk of spread of COVID-19 in this fashion is rare.
  4. After sorting out all groceries, please wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water at least for twenty seconds.
  5. Do not touch your face before washing your hands with soap and water.
  6. Microwaving outside food for one minute or using oven for 70 C for 30 minutes can kill coronavirus.

 

Referenes:

  1. Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1. Van Doremalen et al. N Engl J Med. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc2004973

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