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Coronavirus and grocery shopping: What you should and shouldn't do when you get home

We asked Keith Schneider, a University of Florida professor of food safety, some common questions.

As we all know, grocery shopping has changed during this pandemic. We have to maintain social distance, wear face masks, disinfect our shopping carts. But, what should you do when you bring your groceries home?

We asked Keith Schneider, a University of Florida professor of food safety, some common questions. 

Q: Should I disinfect my groceries?

A: There’s no need to disinfect groceries to prevent COVID-19. Using these types of chemicals on your food products and possibly accidentally ingesting them can lead to trouble. 

Q: Is it ok to leave my groceries in the car or garage for a day to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

A: First off, don’t leave any perishable foods outside, that could lead to a foodborne illness. Next, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is foodborne. If you’re worried about the surfaces of the food items carrying the virus, the best advice is to wash your hands after stocking these items. We’ve been fielding questions about wiping down cans and boxes with sanitizers. If consumers want to wipe boxes or cans with sanitary wipes, they need to make sure that these chemicals do not contact the food as some of these chemicals can be harmful if consumed. If you feel you are in a high-risk group, you can use sanitizing wipes to wipe down boxes and cans, but this is not recommended. Hand washing before and after shopping, and social distancing, are still the best methods to reduce disease.

Q: Is it safe eating food from places like China, Italy, or Spain?

 A: There is no evidence that this virus is foodborne. Ingesting food from any other country besides the U.S., even in the U.S., shouldn't pose any risks. There's no evidence this virus is transmitted through food whatsoever. 

Q: Can I wash or soak fruits or vegetables in soapy water for 20 seconds?

A:  No. There is no evidence of foodborne transfer of COVID-19. Ingestion of soap and detergents can cause gastrointestinal distress.