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Safe grocery shopping: do you need to disinfect your groceries?

To disinfect or not to disinfect, that is the question

Concern about catching COVID-19 has many people worried about their groceries.
Concern about catching COVID-19 has many people worried about their groceries.
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Concerns about the spread of COVID-19 have some outlets suggesting people wash their groceries upon arriving at home, or even leave them outside until any possible germs on their surfaces die.

But Popular Science reports both the FDA and CDC maintain that this is not a necessity.

“The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission,” according to the FDA.

In fact, disinfecting your groceries could be dangerous if done incorrectly. For example, using any kind of soap on produce could cause vomiting, nausea and even diarrhea, Science Alert reports. Fruits and vegetables should be rinsed with cold water before eating — during and after the pandemic.

If you want to wipe down food packaging to ease anxiety, that’s OK. But, according to NPR, you should only soap and water, as using disinfectant sprays or wipes on the food could actually end up contaminating the food.

NPR explains that the real risk when grocery shopping is not the groceries themselves, but the other people in the grocery store.

The best grocery safety precautions, NPR reports, are to avoid crowds, disinfect your shopping cart and make a list of the things you need so you can get in and out quickly.

New CDC recommendations indicate that wearing a face mask can also be helpful in preventing spread while in the store. But frequent hand washing and sanitizing is likely to be more effective at preventing virus spread than wearing gloves, Fox News reports. Once you get home, wash your hands.